Resource allocation across the egg laying sequence in the wild zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata

Simon C. Griffith*, Emma C. Pariser, Barbara Tschirren, Lee B. Astheimer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Zebra finches have played a central role in the discovery of a variety of maternal effects over the past decade, with females shown to adjust resource allocation to their eggs in response to variables such as the appearance of their partner, their own condition, and the diet on which they are maintained. In addition to being the focus of some of the most high profile individual studies that have influenced maternal effects research in birds, the multitude of zebra finch studies together provide the most comprehensive set of data to illuminate general patterns and compare different maternally derived variables. Surprisingly, to date, virtually all of this work has focused on captive populations of the zebra finch that have been domesticated for many generations, and which are typically held under relatively constant environmental and dietary conditions. Here we report the first data on resource allocation across the egg laying sequence in a free-living wild population. Reassuringly we find that the patterns that have been found in the majority of studies of domesticated populations with respect to investment across the laying sequence were all present in the wild population. The size and mass of eggs increased through the laying sequence whilst the concentration of carotenoids significantly decreased across the laying sequence. Although there was no significant pattern with respect to testosterone across the laying sequence the first two eggs had a higher level of testosterone than the last few eggs in the clutch, which is also consistent with the findings of earlier studies in captive populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-484
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

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