The allocation between egg size and clutch size depends on local nest survival rate in a mean of bet-hedging in a shorebird

Zitan Song, Xin Lin, Pinjia Que, Naerhulan Halimubieke, Qin Huang, Zhengwang Zhang, Tamás Székely, Yang Liu

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12 Citations (SciVal)


Background: The allocation of resources between offspring size and number is a central question of life-history theory. Although several studies have tested the existence of this trade-off, few studies have investigated how environmental variation influences the allocation of resources to offspring size and offspring number. Additionally, the relationship between population dynamics and the offspring size and number allocation is far less understood. Methods: We investigate whether resource allocation between egg size and clutch size is influenced by the ambient temperature and whether it may be related to apparent nest survival rate. We measured 1548 eggs from 541 nests of two closely related shorebird species, the Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and the White-faced Plover (C. dealbatus) in China, in four populations that exhibit contrasting ambient environments. We weighed females, monitored nest survival, and calculated the variance of ambient temperature. Results: Although we found that egg size and clutch size were all different between the four breeding populations, the reproductive investment (i.e. total clutch volume) was similar between populations. We also found that populations with a high survival rate had relatively larger eggs and a smaller clutch than populations with a low nest survival rate. The latter result is in line with a conservative/diversified bet-hedging strategy. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that plovers may increasing fitness by investing fewer, larger or many, small according local nest survival rate to make a similar investment in reproduction, and thereby may have an impact on population demography.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalAvian Research
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Ambient temperature
  • Bet-hedging strategy
  • Nest survival rate
  • Resource allocation
  • Shorebirds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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