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Conspicuous eggs and colourful hypotheses: testing the role of multiple influences on avian eggshell appearance

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The diversity of eggshell colours and patterning across different birds is a fascinating example of the extended avian phenotype. The avian egg's background colours range from light green/yellow to brilliant blue and intense maroon, and with the scrawling patterns comparable to the assortment of eggs found in an Easter Bunny's basket. Here we briefly introduce the diversity of eggshell appearance, its perplexingly narrow chemical basis, and clarify how the a priori assessment of assumptions and potential hypotheses can shape new eggshell research. In addition, we highlight some of the recent hypotheses developed outside the visual paradigm that has dictated the most influential hypotheses of eggshell appearance to date. Finally, we indicate priority areas for future comprehensive research on eggshells based on adaptations to ongoing changes in environmental conditions.
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Keywords: EGGSHELL COLOUR; MACULATION; PIGMENTS; PORPHYRINS; REPRODUCTIVE ECOLOGY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 December 2011

More about this publication?
  • Avian Biology Research provides a forum for the publication of research in every field of ornithology. It covers all aspects of pure and applied ornithology for wild or captive species as well as research that does not readily fit within the publication objectives of other ornithological journals. By considering a wide range of research fields for publication, Avian Biology Research provides a forum for people working in every field of ornithology. The journal also includes sections on avian news, conference diary and book reviews.

    Editor-in-Chief: Charles Deeming Editors: Tom Pike; Dale Sandercock; Claudia Wascher; Josh Firth; David Wilkinson; Jim Reynolds Production Editor: Claire Pike

    Cover image: Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra). Credit: jurra8/Shutterstock.com.

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