Many life-history traits are expressed interactively in life, but to a varying extent on different occasions. Changes in trait expression can be accounted for by differences in the quality of the environment ('environmental constraint' hypothesis) or by strategic adjustments, if the relative contribution of the trait to fitness varies with time ('strategic allocation' hypothesis). In birds, egg production is lower in replacement clutches than in first clutches, but it is unknown whether this reduction results from an environmental constraint (e.g. food being less available at the time when the replacement clutch is produced) or from a strategic allocation of resources between the two breeding attempts. To distinguish between these two hypotheses, we performed an experiment with black-legged kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla). Pairs were either food-supplemented or not before the first clutch was laid onwards and we induced them to produce a replacement clutch by removing eggs once when the first clutch was complete. As predicted by the 'strategic allocation' hypothesis, egg production of food-supplemented and non-food-supplemented birds decreased between first and replacement clutches. This suggests that kittiwakes strategically reduce investment in egg production for their replacement clutches compared to first clutches. ?? 2006 The Royal Society.
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Kittiwakes strategically reduce investment in replacement clutches
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences