University of Oulu

Loukola, OJ, Adamik, P, Adriaensen, F, et al. The roles of temperature, nest predators and information parasites for geographical variation in egg covering behaviour of tits (Paridae). J Biogeogr. 2020; 47: 1482– 1493.

The roles of temperature, nest predators and information parasites for geographical variation in egg covering behaviour of tits (Paridae)

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Author: Loukola, Olli J.1,2; Adamik, Peter3; Adriaensen, Frank4;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Botanical Museum, Biodiversity Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Laboratory of Ornithology, Department of Zoology, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic
4Department of Biology, Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
5Terrestrial Vertebrates Research Unit “Cavanilles”, Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia, Paterna, Spain
6CNRS, Department of Biometry & Evolutionary Biology, UMR 5558, University of Lyon 1, University of Lyon, Villeurbanne, France
7Cypresvej 1, Brønderslev, Denmark
8Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
9Bioeconomy Research Team, Novia University of Applied Sciences, Ekenäs, Finland
10Institute of Ecology & Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
11Department Biologie II, LMU-München, Munich, Germany
12Department of Ecology, Charles University, Praha, Czech Republic
13Conservation Ecology Group, Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
14Institute of Evolutionary Biology, The University of Edinburgh, The King’s Buildings, Edinburgh, UK
15Behavioural Ecology and Ecophysiology Group, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium
16Centre d’Études Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC), UMR 7372 CNRS-Université de La Rochelle, Villiers-en-Bois, France
17Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology Unit, Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
18Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
19ISPRA, Rome, Italy
20Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Penryn, UK
21Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Behavioural Ecology Group, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
22Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke, Oulu), University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-05-06


Aim: Nest building is widespread among animals. Nests may provide receptacles for eggs, developing offspring and the parents, and protect them from adverse environmental conditions. Nests may also indicate the quality of the territory and its owner and can be considered as an extended phenotype of its builder(s). Nests may, thus, function as a sexual and social signal. Here, we examined ecological and abiotic factors—temperature, nest predation and interspecific information utilization—shaping geographical variation in a specific nest structure—hair and feather cover of eggs—and its function as an extended phenotype before incubation in great (Parus major) and blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) across Europe. We also tested whether egg covering is associated with reproductive success of great tits.

Location: Fourteen different study sites and 28 populations across Europe.

Taxon: Parus major, Cyanistes caeruleus.

Methods: We recorded clutch coverage estimates and collected egg covering nest material from the tit nests. We also measured nest specific breeding parameters and phenotypic measurements on adults. We tested whether mean spring temperatures, nest predation rates and flycatcher (Ficedula spp) densities in the study areas explain the large‐scale geographical variation of clutch coverage and reproductive success of tits.

Results: The degree of egg coverage of great tits increased with lower mean spring temperature, higher nest predation rate and higher flycatcher density. We did not find egg covering of blue tits to be associated with any of the ecological or abiotic factors. Moreover, egg covering of great tits was not associated with reproductive success in our cross‐sectional data, yet a rigorous assessment of fitness effects would require long‐term data.

Main conclusions: Our findings suggest that, in great tits, egg covering may simultaneously provide thermal insulation against cold temperatures during egg‐laying in spring and also represent a counter‐adaptation to reduce information parasitism by flycatchers and nest predation. Hence, geographical variation in interspecific interactions, and consequently in co‐evolutionary processes, may affect the evolution of nest characteristics besides environmental conditions.

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Series: Journal of biogeography
ISSN: 0305-0270
ISSN-E: 1365-2699
ISSN-L: 0305-0270
Volume: 47
Issue: 7
Pages: 1482 - 1493
DOI: 10.1111/jbi.13830
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: O.J.L. was funded by Biological Interactions Graduation School (BIOINT), the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation/the Foundation's Post Doc Pool and Academy of Finland grant no. 24302601. J.C.S. was funded by CGL‐2016‐79568‐C3‐3‐P research project from the Spanish Research Council (Ministry of Economics and Competitiveness). S.M.K. was funded by Academy of Finland (grants No. 314833 and 319898). J.T.F. was funded by Academy of Finland (grant no. 122665 and 125720) and Kone Foundation. The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 314833
Detailed Information: 314833 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
319898 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
122665 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
125720 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Dataset Reference: Supporting information:
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. Journal of Biogeography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.