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Egg-Laying Time and Laying Interval in the Common Eider

Michelle D. Watson, Gregory J. Robertson and Fred Cooke
The Condor
Vol. 95, No. 4 (Nov., 1993), pp. 869-878
DOI: 10.2307/1369424
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1369424
Page Count: 10
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Egg-Laying Time and Laying Interval in the Common Eider
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Abstract

We determined the time of day at which eggs were laid and the laying interval (time between laying of successive eggs in a clutch) in the Hudson Bay race of the Common Eider (Somateria mollissima sedentaria), at La Pérouse Bay, Churchill, Manitoba (58°24′N, 94°24′W). Nests were found at the one-egg stage and were subsequently visited three times daily. Analysis of the nest contents at each visit allowed us to estimate mean egg-laying times as well as the mean time at which eggs were lost to predators. The estimated mean egg-laying hour was 13:49 (CST, 95% CL 12:30-15:06). We detected no selective advantage to laying at this time based on the timing of egg predation. The average egg-laying interval was 27.7 ± 3.4 hr. Laying intervals decreased with increasing clutch sizes. For clutches of four and five eggs, the estimated interval between the last two eggs was significantly longer than that for intervals between all other eggs, all other comparisons between intervals were not significantly different. If last-laid eggs were excluded the mean laying interval for all eggs was 26.1 ± 4.3 hr, confirming that the last egg in a clutch takes longer to produce. We suggest that longer laying intervals of last-laid eggs may be related to hormonal changes associated with the onset of incubation.

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