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Hatching asynchrony and brood reduction influence immune response in Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus nestlings

AuthorsMartínez-Padilla, Jesús ; Viñuela, Javier
Issue Date2011
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationIbis 153(3): 601-610 (2011)
AbstractThe onset of incubation before the end of laying imposes asynchrony at hatching and, therefore, a size hierarchy in the brood. It has been argued that hatching asynchrony might be a strategy to improve reproductive output in terms of quality or quantity of offspring. However, little is known about the mediating effect of hatching asynchrony on offspring quality when brood reduction occurs. Here, we investigate the relationship between phenotypic quality and hatching asynchrony in Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus nestlings in Spain. Hatching asynchrony did not increase breeding success or nestling quality. Furthermore, hatching asynchrony and brood reduction had different effects on nestlings' phytohaematogglutinin (PHA)-mediated immune response and nestling growth. In asynchronous and reduced broods (in which at least one nestling died), nestlings showed a stronger PHA-mediated immune response and tended to have a smaller body size compared with nestlings raised in synchronous and reduced broods. When brood reduction occurred in broods hatched synchronously, there was no effect on nestling size, but nestlings had a relatively poor PHA-mediated immune response compared with nestlings raised in asynchronous and reduced broods. We suggest that resources for growth can be directed to immune function only in asynchronously hatched broods, resulting in improved nestling quality, as suggested by their immune response. We also found that males produced a greater PHA-mediated immune response than females only in brood-reduced nests without any effect on nestling size or condition, suggesting that females may trade off immune activities and body condition, size or weight. Overall, our results suggest that hatching pattern and brood reduction may mediate resource allocation to different fitness traits. They also highlight that the resolution of immune-related trade-offs when brood reduction occurs may differ between male and female nestlings. © 2011 The Authors. Ibis © 2011 British Ornithologists' Union.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01133.x
issn: 0019-1019
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