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1 December 2010 Egg Size Variation in Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus and Great Tits Parus major in Relation to Habitat Differences in Snail Abundance
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Abstract

Wild passerines, especially tits, utilize snail shells as the main source of calcium necessary for laying females to construct egg shells. This research found that the two study areas, representing two habitat types — a mature deciduous forest and a human-disturbed parkland — are inhabited by different snail assemblages: both species richness and density are much higher in the parkland than in the forest. This means that less calcium is available to female tits in the forest than in the parkland, which could result in calcium limitation in the former habitat. Egg size traits, i.e. volume, length and breadth, in the Blue Tit show a consistent long-term pattern of variation that reflects the pattern of calcium availability: egg trait values are higher in the parkland than in the woodland. No habitat-related variation in egg size traits was found in the Great Tits. We suggest that the lack of a relation between Great Tit egg characteristics and snail availability results from the higher ecological plasticity of this species in comparison with the Blue Tit, including its ability to exploit alternative sources of calcium.

Mirosława Bańbura, Anna Sulikowska-Drozd, Adam Kaliński, Joanna Skwarska, Jarosław Wawrzyniak, Andrzej Kruk, Piotr Zieliński, and Jerzy Bańbura "Egg Size Variation in Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus and Great Tits Parus major in Relation to Habitat Differences in Snail Abundance," Acta Ornithologica 45(2), 121-129, (1 December 2010). https://doi.org/10.3161/000164510X551264
Received: 1 July 2010; Accepted: 1 December 2010; Published: 1 December 2010
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