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Biol Lett. 2008 Oct 23;4(5):468-71. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0266.

Experimental heating reveals nest temperature affects nestling condition in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor).

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  • 1Department of Biology, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002, USA.


Investment in one life-history stage can have delayed effects on subsequent life-history stages within a single reproductive bout. We experimentally heated tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) nests during incubation to test for effects on parental and nestling conditions. Females incubating in heated boxes maintained higher body condition and fed nestlings at higher rates. We cross-fostered nestlings and found that young nestlings (4-7 days old) incubated in heated nests had higher body condition and body mass, regardless of treatment status of their rearing parent. However, older nestlings which were fed by heated females maintained higher condition and body mass regardless of treatment status of their incubating parent. These results indicate that investment in one life-history stage can have multiple pathways of carry-over effects on future life-history stages.

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