Evol Ecol Res 9: 355-364 (2007)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Younger, weaker white stork (Ciconia ciconia) nestlings become the best breeders

José I. Aguirre1* and Pablo Vergara2

1Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, c/ José Antonio Novais 2, 28040 Madrid and 2Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), J. Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: jaguirre@bio.ucm.es


Background: The literature suggests that migratory bird individuals that hatch first are more fit than their siblings.

Hypothesis: Older siblings in better physical condition will produce more chicks as breeders.

Time and location: A population of white storks nesting in the province of Madrid (central Spain) was monitored annually between 1999 and 2004.

Methods: Hatching order, weight of hatchlings and nestlings, and date of return were recorded and correlated with subsequent fitness and measured as breeding outcome (binomial, failed or successful nests) and productivity (number of nestlings produced).

Conclusions: Contrary to expectations based on their higher nestling weight, and to our hypothesis, first-hatched siblings returned later to the breeding grounds, were less successful, and produced fewer chicks than the rest of the brood.

Keywords: counter-selection, fitness, hatching order, individual decisions.

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