The presence of density dependence of clutch size is tested in 57 long‐term population studies of 10 passerine bird species. In about half of the studies of tit species Parus spp. density dependence of clutch size was found, while none was found in studies of two flycatcher species Ficedula spp. One hypothesis explaining this difference is that migrants are less able to predict the final competitor density, because new pairs are still settling when the first females start laying eggs. Such unpredictability is only a problem for early laying females. If this explanation is true, the commonly observed negative correlation between clutch size and laying date should be stronger in high‐density years. I tested this prediction in three populations of Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca, and compared the results with three populations of Great Tit Parus major. In none of the six populations was there a significant correlation between the strength of the seasonal decline in clutch size and population density. Thus the lack of density dependence of clutch size in Pied Flycatchers was not consistent with the idea that this is caused by the unpredictability of final density at the time of egg‐laying of the earliest females in the population. Furthermore, density does not have any adverse effect on reproductive output of Pied Flycatchers, and therefore they do not adjust clutch size to density.
Journal of Avian Biology – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 2000
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