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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 May 13;94(10):5153-5.

A single response mechanism is responsible for evolutionary adaptive variation in a bird's laying date.

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  • 1Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/CEFE, B.P. 1919 route de Mende, F-34-L93 Montpellier cedex 5, France.


Many proximate factors determine a bird's laying date, including environmental and social stimuli as well as individual responses to internal and external factors. However, the relative importance of these factors has not been experimentally demonstrated. Here we show that (i) large differences in the onset of first clutches between different populations result from variation in different responses to photoperiod and not from variation in responses to any other proximate factors and (ii) the same response mechanism causes maladaptive laying dates in habitats modified by humans. We present, to our knowledge, the first experimental demonstration that a single response mechanism is responsible for evolutionary adaptive intraspecific variation in a vertebrate life history trait.

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