Growth of Audouin's gull chicks: the role of prehatch and posthatch factors
Keywords:growth, Audouin´s Gull, Larus audouinii, chicks, Ebro Delta, Columbretes, parental quality, egg size
We compared the growth rates of Audouin´s Gull (Larus audouinii) chicks from the Ebro Delta and Columbretes Islands. Chicks from the Columbretes Islands were reared in captivity and fed ad libitum. Wild chicks from the Ebro Delta weighed more than chicks hatched from Columbretes eggs but attained a lower weight at fledging. Chicks from Columbretes eggs hatched with a longer wing length but rates did not differ between samples during the early stages of growth. Eggs from the Ebro Delta were significantly larger than eggs from Columbretes. Hence, differences in growth appeared not to be related to differences in egg size (prehatch factor) but only in parental quality (posthatch factor) through the amount of food delivered to chicks. These differences could be due to the incapacity of parents to provide enough food during the last stages of chick development, in part because of reduced food availability at the Ebro Delta during the study period. Alternatively, differences could be attributed to a trade-off between present and future reproduction. Demographic consequences of reduced food availability for the 1993 Ebro Delta cohort should be explored in future work.
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