Repeatability of nest morphology in African weaver birds

Patrick T. Walsh, Mike Hansell, Wendy D. Borello, Susan D. Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It is generally assumed that birds build nests according to a genetic 'template', little influenced by learning or memory. One way to confirm the role of genetics in nest building is to assess the repeatability of nest morphology with repeated nest attempts. Solitary weaver birds, which build multiple nests in a single breeding season, are a useful group with which to do this. Here we show that repeatability of nest morphology was low, but significant, in male Southern Masked weaver birds and not significant in the Village weavers. The larger bodied Village weavers built larger nests than did Southern Masked weavers, but body size did not explain variation in Southern Masked weaver nest dimensions. Nests built by the same male in both species got shorter and lighter as more nests were constructed. While these data demonstrate the potential for a genetic component of variation in nest building in solitary weavers, it is also clear that there remains plenty of scope in both of these species for experience to shape nest construction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-151
Number of pages3
JournalBiology letters
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2010

Keywords

  • experience
  • Nest building
  • repeatability
  • weaver bird

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