Effects of experimental calcium availability, egg parameters and laying order on Great Tit Parus major eggshell pigmentation patterns

R. Hargitai, Gergely Nagy, Márton Herényi, J. Török

Research output: Article

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many bird species lay eggs speckled with protoporphyrin-based spots, however, for most of them the function of eggshell spotting is unknown. A plausible hypothesis is that protoporphyrin might have a structural function in strengthening the eggshell and is therefore deposited when calcium is scarce. In this study, we experimentally provided Great Tit Parus major females with supplemental calcium to examine its effect on the protoporphyrin-based maculation of their eggs. In addition, we studied variation in eggshell pigmentation patterns in relation to other egg parameters and laying order. Calcium-supplemented females laid larger eggs but shell thickness was not significantly affected by the treatment. Calcium supplementation may reduce the time and energy females devote to searching for calcium-rich material, so that they can collect more nutrients and so lay larger eggs. Furthermore, pigment darkness was associated with egg volume and shape, which suggests that female quality and environmental food availability may also influence the shell pigmentation pattern. Within clutches, later-laid eggs had larger and darker spots that were distributed more unevenly on the shell surface. This within-clutch pattern could be explained by the increase in egg volume and egg shape and a decline in shell thickness with egg-laying order, which characteristics were all related to shell-spotting pattern. Eggs with a coronal ring had thinner shells, but pigment intensity and spot size were not related to shell thickness. Thus, our results suggest that concentrated spotting distribution may have a mechanical function, supporting the structural-function hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-570
Number of pages10
JournalIbis
Volume155
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - júl. 2013

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eggshell
Parus major
egg shell
pigmentation
calcium
protoporphyrin
egg
shell
pigments
egg shell thickness
food availability
oviposition
pigment
parameter
effect
birds
energy
nutrients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

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title = "Effects of experimental calcium availability, egg parameters and laying order on Great Tit Parus major eggshell pigmentation patterns",
abstract = "Many bird species lay eggs speckled with protoporphyrin-based spots, however, for most of them the function of eggshell spotting is unknown. A plausible hypothesis is that protoporphyrin might have a structural function in strengthening the eggshell and is therefore deposited when calcium is scarce. In this study, we experimentally provided Great Tit Parus major females with supplemental calcium to examine its effect on the protoporphyrin-based maculation of their eggs. In addition, we studied variation in eggshell pigmentation patterns in relation to other egg parameters and laying order. Calcium-supplemented females laid larger eggs but shell thickness was not significantly affected by the treatment. Calcium supplementation may reduce the time and energy females devote to searching for calcium-rich material, so that they can collect more nutrients and so lay larger eggs. Furthermore, pigment darkness was associated with egg volume and shape, which suggests that female quality and environmental food availability may also influence the shell pigmentation pattern. Within clutches, later-laid eggs had larger and darker spots that were distributed more unevenly on the shell surface. This within-clutch pattern could be explained by the increase in egg volume and egg shape and a decline in shell thickness with egg-laying order, which characteristics were all related to shell-spotting pattern. Eggs with a coronal ring had thinner shells, but pigment intensity and spot size were not related to shell thickness. Thus, our results suggest that concentrated spotting distribution may have a mechanical function, supporting the structural-function hypothesis.",
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T1 - Effects of experimental calcium availability, egg parameters and laying order on Great Tit Parus major eggshell pigmentation patterns

AU - Hargitai, R.

AU - Nagy, Gergely

AU - Herényi, Márton

AU - Török, J.

PY - 2013/7

Y1 - 2013/7

N2 - Many bird species lay eggs speckled with protoporphyrin-based spots, however, for most of them the function of eggshell spotting is unknown. A plausible hypothesis is that protoporphyrin might have a structural function in strengthening the eggshell and is therefore deposited when calcium is scarce. In this study, we experimentally provided Great Tit Parus major females with supplemental calcium to examine its effect on the protoporphyrin-based maculation of their eggs. In addition, we studied variation in eggshell pigmentation patterns in relation to other egg parameters and laying order. Calcium-supplemented females laid larger eggs but shell thickness was not significantly affected by the treatment. Calcium supplementation may reduce the time and energy females devote to searching for calcium-rich material, so that they can collect more nutrients and so lay larger eggs. Furthermore, pigment darkness was associated with egg volume and shape, which suggests that female quality and environmental food availability may also influence the shell pigmentation pattern. Within clutches, later-laid eggs had larger and darker spots that were distributed more unevenly on the shell surface. This within-clutch pattern could be explained by the increase in egg volume and egg shape and a decline in shell thickness with egg-laying order, which characteristics were all related to shell-spotting pattern. Eggs with a coronal ring had thinner shells, but pigment intensity and spot size were not related to shell thickness. Thus, our results suggest that concentrated spotting distribution may have a mechanical function, supporting the structural-function hypothesis.

AB - Many bird species lay eggs speckled with protoporphyrin-based spots, however, for most of them the function of eggshell spotting is unknown. A plausible hypothesis is that protoporphyrin might have a structural function in strengthening the eggshell and is therefore deposited when calcium is scarce. In this study, we experimentally provided Great Tit Parus major females with supplemental calcium to examine its effect on the protoporphyrin-based maculation of their eggs. In addition, we studied variation in eggshell pigmentation patterns in relation to other egg parameters and laying order. Calcium-supplemented females laid larger eggs but shell thickness was not significantly affected by the treatment. Calcium supplementation may reduce the time and energy females devote to searching for calcium-rich material, so that they can collect more nutrients and so lay larger eggs. Furthermore, pigment darkness was associated with egg volume and shape, which suggests that female quality and environmental food availability may also influence the shell pigmentation pattern. Within clutches, later-laid eggs had larger and darker spots that were distributed more unevenly on the shell surface. This within-clutch pattern could be explained by the increase in egg volume and egg shape and a decline in shell thickness with egg-laying order, which characteristics were all related to shell-spotting pattern. Eggs with a coronal ring had thinner shells, but pigment intensity and spot size were not related to shell thickness. Thus, our results suggest that concentrated spotting distribution may have a mechanical function, supporting the structural-function hypothesis.

KW - Calcium supplementation

KW - Egg volume

KW - Eggshell thickness

KW - Laying order

KW - Protoporphyrin

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