The global distribution of avian eggshell colours suggest a thermoregulatory benefit of darker pigmentation

Phillip A. Wisocki, Patrick Kennelly, Indira Rojas Rivera, Phillip Cassey, Mark L. Burkey, Daniel Hanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The survival of a bird’s developing embryo depends on the egg’s ability to stay within strict thermal limits. How eggshell colours help maintain thermal balance is a long-standing and contested question. Using data spanning a wide phylogenetic diversity of birds on a global spatial scale, we find evidence that eggshell pigmentation may have been shaped by thermoregulatory needs. Birds living in cold habitats, particularly those with nests exposed to incident solar radiation, have darker eggs. We show evidence that darker eggs heat more rapidly than lighter ones when exposed to solar radiation. This evidence suggests that egg pigmentation could play an important role in thermoregulation in cold climates, while a range of competing selective pressures further influence eggshell colours in warmer climates. These findings advance our understanding of thermoregulation in the distribution of natural colours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-155
Number of pages8
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Fingerprint

eggshell
egg shell
pigmentation
thermoregulation
egg
heat
color
birds
solar radiation
bird
cold zones
geographical distribution
embryo (animal)
climate
nests
embryo
nest
phylogeny
habitats
phylogenetics

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Cite this

Wisocki, Phillip A. ; Kennelly, Patrick ; Rojas Rivera, Indira ; Cassey, Phillip ; Burkey, Mark L. ; Hanley, Daniel. / The global distribution of avian eggshell colours suggest a thermoregulatory benefit of darker pigmentation. In: Nature Ecology and Evolution. 2020 ; Vol. 4, No. 1. pp. 148-155.
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The global distribution of avian eggshell colours suggest a thermoregulatory benefit of darker pigmentation. / Wisocki, Phillip A.; Kennelly, Patrick; Rojas Rivera, Indira; Cassey, Phillip; Burkey, Mark L.; Hanley, Daniel.

In: Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 4, No. 1, 01.01.2020, p. 148-155.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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