Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Latitudinal variation in day length and working day length has a confounding effect when comparing nest attentiveness in tropical and temperate species

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

During incubation, tropical passerines have been shown to have lower levels of nest attentiveness than their counterparts at north temperate latitudes, spending a higher percentage of daylight time off the nest. This difference has been interpreted as evidence of parental restraint; tropical birds allocate more time to daily self-maintenance, perhaps preserving their higher annual survival rates and future breeding potential. But such comparisons are susceptible to the confounding effects of day length variation, because a given amount of time spent off the nest will account for a greater percentage of daylight time near to the equator than at high latitudes during spring and summer. Based on a pattern of increasing day length between 0° and 70°N, we show that the impact of this bias is likely to be small where sites are separated by less than 30°–40° of latitude, but should increase substantially both with latitudinal span and distance from the equator. To illustrate this effect, we compared nest attentiveness in two congeners breeding at 1°S and 52°N. During incubation, Stripe-breasted Tits Parus fasciiventer in Uganda had a shorter working day (time from emerging to retiring) than north temperate Great Tits P. major, and spent a higher percentage of daylight time off the nest (32 %) than Great Tits in the UK (24 %). However, this difference was almost wholly explained by the latitudinal difference in day length; the amount of time spent off the nest differed by just 10 min day−1 (<1 % of the 24-h cycle). We show that this effect may be moderated by the change in working day length, which increased less rapidly (in relation to latitude) than day length. Although these effects can thus confound latitudinal comparisons of nest attentiveness, accentuating a pattern predicted by life-history theory, they are avoidable if attentiveness is expressed as the percentage of time or the number of minutes spent incubating per 24 h.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-489
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Volume155
Issue number2
Early online date8 Dec 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014

    Research areas

  • Nest attentiveness, Latitudinal variation, Day length, Working day, Stripe-breasted Tit, Parus fasciiventer, Great Tit, Parus major

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Light stalks increase the precision and accuracy of non-breeding locations calculated from geolocator tags: a field test from a long-distance migrant

    Blackburn, E., Burgess, M., Freeman, B., Riseley, A., Azang, A., Ivande, S. T., Hewson, C. & Cresswell, W., 28 Nov 2019, In : Bird Study. Latest Articles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. A fruit diet rather than invertebrate diet maintains a robust innate immunity in an omnivorous tropical songbird

    Nwaogu, C. J., Galema, A., Cresswell, W., Dietz, M. W. & Tieleman, B. I., 4 Nov 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Animal Ecology. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Implications of farmland expansion for species abundance, richness and mean body mass in African raptor communities

    Shaw, P., Kibuule, M., Nalwanga, D., Kaphu, G., Opige, M. & Pomeroy, D., Jul 2019, In : Biological Conservation. 235, p. 164-177 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Weak breeding seasonality of a songbird in a seasonally arid tropical environment arises from individual flexibility and strongly seasonal moult

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I. & Cresswell, W., Jul 2019, In : Ibis. 161, 3, p. 533-545 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Journal of Ornithology (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Reviewer)
    17 Jul 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Related by journal

  1. Parental behaviour and family proximity as key to gosling survival in Greylag Geese (Anser anser)

    Szipl, G., Loth, A., Wascher, C. A. F., Hemetsberger, J., Kotrschal, K. & Frigerio, D., 20 Feb 2019, In : Journal of Ornithology. First Online, 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Differential responses to gosling distress calls in parental and non-parental Greylag Geese

    Loth, A., Frigerio, D., Kotrschal, K. & Szipl, G., Apr 2018, In : Journal of Ornithology. 159, 2, p. 401-412 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Temperature and aridity determine body size conformity to Bergmann’s rule independent of latitudinal differences in a tropical environment

    Nwaogu, C. J., Tieleman, B. I., Bitrus, K. & Cresswell, W. R. L., Oct 2018, In : Journal of Ornithology. 159, 4, p. 1053–1062 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Body reserves in intra-African migrants

    Nwaogu, C. J. & Cresswell, W., Jan 2016, In : Journal of Ornithology. 157, 1, p. 125-135

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 77197527

Top