Evolution of reproductive life histories in island birds worldwide

  • Covas R
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Abstract

Island environments typically share characteristics such as impoverished biotas and less-seasonal climates, which should be conducive to specific adaptations by organisms. However, with the exception of morphological studies, broad-scale tests of patterns of adaptation on islands are rare. Here, I examine reproductive patterns in island birds worldwide. Reproductive life histories are influenced by latitude, which could affect the response to insularity; therefore, I additionally test this hypothesis. Island colonizers showed mostly bi-parental care, but there was a significant increase in cooperative breeding on islands. Additionally, I found support for previous suggestions of reduced fecundity, longer developmental periods and increased investment in young on islands. However, clutch size increased with latitude at a rate nearly five times faster on the mainland than on the islands revealing a substantially stronger effect of insularity at higher latitudes. Latitude and insularity may also interact to determine egg volume and incubation periods, but these effects were less clear. Analyses of reproductive success did not support an effect of reduced nest predation as a driver of reproductive change, but this requires further study. The effect of latitude detected here suggests that the evolutionary changes associated with insularity relate to environmental stability and improved adult survival.

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Authors

  • R. Covas

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