PAPER: Nest morphology in African weaver birds2009-10-25 (29)
Walsh PT, Hansell M, Borello WD, Healy SD, 2010 [online 2009]. Repeatability of nest morphology in African weaver birds. Biology Letters, online
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.
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