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 journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

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

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The global distribution of avian eggshell colours suggest a thermoregulatory benefit of darker pigmentation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this