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The Rufous Hornero (Furnarius rufus) nest as an incubation chamber.

Authors
  • Shibuya, Felipe L S1
  • Braga, Talita V2
  • Roper, James J3
  • 1 Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Brazil)
  • 2 Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil. , (Brazil)
  • 3 Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Conservação, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil; Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia de Ecossistemas, Universidade de Vila Velha, Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, Brazil. , (Brazil)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Thermal Biology
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2015
Volume
47
Pages
7–12
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2014.10.010
PMID: 25526648
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Foraging and incubation are mutually exclusive activities for parent birds. A trade-off is generated when a combination of food availability and temperature regulation force birds to choose one and neglect the other, at least temporarily. The Rufous Hornero builds large, oven-like, mud nests, the evolutionary cause of which remains unknown. We tested that temperature variation inside the nest is that which is expected if one function of the nest were for temperate regulation. If so, this would suggest that the nest works as an incubation chamber (but which now may serve more than one function). We divided nests into two natural treatments: nests that received more continuous direct sunshine (sun), and those that received less direct sunshine, due to shade from trees or buildings (shade). Thermometer data loggers were placed in the nest cavity and outside, in the shade of the nest, and temperature was measured every 10min. We predicted that temperatures would consistently be higher and less variable in nests than outside nests. Also, at higher ambient temperatures the nest would function better as an incubation chamber as a consequence of having evolved in a hotter climate. Thus, in Curitiba, where temperatures are lower than where the species (and nest) evolved, nests in greater sunshine should have thermal characteristics that support the incubation chamber hypothesis. Predictions were supported: with Repeated Measures ANOVA and t-tests, we found that temperatures were more constant and higher in nests, especially when in the sun, and as the season progressed (hotter ambient temperatures). We conclude that the large mud nest of the Rufous Hornero works as an incubation chamber that likely evolved to help resolve the incubation-foraging trade-off in the very seasonal and hot regions where the bird evolved. Thus, as an incubation chamber, the nest allows the bird to forage rather than incubate thereby resolving the foraging-incubation trade-off and potentially favoring survival of the adults and their foraging for, rather than incubating, their young. Counter intuitively, in the study area, where the Rufous Hornero is a recent arrival following deforestation, and where the climate is very different from where it evolved, there seems to be no clear thermal benefits for the birds from their energetically expensive mud nest.

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