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Egg size in herring gulls larus argentatus on mellum island north sea west germany the influence of nest vegetation nest density and colony development

Egg size in herring gulls larus argentatus on mellum island north sea west germany the influence of nest vegetation nest density and colony development

Colonial Waterbirds 9(1): 68-80

During recent decades, the Herring Gull colony on Mellum (Wadden Sea, West Germany) has been constantly growing and spreading. This study investigated whether egg size variation within the colony area was related to differences in breeding habitat, to nest density, or to the shift of the colony center to the north of the island. Nest density generally increased with increasing vegetation measurements, but decreased near maximum values. With increasing vegetation parameters egg length and volume-index decreased for both all nests studied and for average values per transect plot. Egg breadth decreased on the latter basis only. The negative correlations of egg size with nest density lost significant after partialing out vegetation variables. We found higher mean egg size values in the new breeding areas, especially where nests were situated in sparse vegetation and at lower densities; there little change in numbers occurred. At the northern edge of the colony, breeding birds increased in number rapidly (17% per year), nested in greater density, and started breeding later in the season. In the traditional breeding area, with tall and dense vegetation, eggs were smaller, showed greater intraclutch variance in breadth, and were laid earlier. Nest density was similar to that at the northern edge, but breeding pairs decreased (6% per year). The smaller breadth and volume-index in this area was especially due to the earliest laying birds. The results correspond best with the hypothesis that on the average older birds with smaller eggs bred at the traditional breeding sites.

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Accession: 005337948

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DOI: 10.2307/1521144

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