The early environment in which an organism grows can have long-lasting impacts on both its phenotype and fitness. However, assessing this environment comprehensively is a formidable task. The relative length of the second to the fourth digit (2D: 4D) is a broadly studied skeletal trait that is fixed for life during ontogeny. 2D: 4D has been shown to indicate various early effects including the perinatal steroid milieu in both humans and non-human animals. However, the fitness relevance of the early effects indicated by 2D: 4D remains unknown. Here, we investigated hindlimb 2D: 4D and measures of lifetime performance in wild collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) females. We found that females with higher 2D: 4D had a greater number of recruiting offspring to the breeding population. This was the case despite the fact that such females did not lay more eggs or breed more frequently during their reproductive life. Our results support the suggestion that 2D: 4D, known to be a retrospective marker of perinatal development, positively associates with female quality in the collared flycatcher.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)