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Repeatability of chick growth and food provisioning in Manx shearwaters Puffinus puffinus
Gray, C.M., Brooke, M. de L. & Hamer K.C. (2005) J. Avian Biol. 36(5):374-379
In animals that produce few offspring during their lifetime, the ability to raise high-quality offspring through the provision of parental care is particularly important for individual fitness. In this paper, we use repeatability analysis of data from two separate time-periods, in the 1970s and the 1990s, to examine parental and environmental effects on chick growth and food provisioning in a long-lived seabird, the Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus. We test the hypothesis that asymptotic body masses of chicks are most strongly influenced by an individual's genotype, with growth rates intermediate and food provisioning rates most strongly affected by environmental conditions during growth. Peak body masses of chicks raised by the same parents showed significant repeatability in both samples, whereas mass growth rates up to the attainment of peak mass showed significant repeatability only in the 1970s. Several different measures of food provisioning by parents showed no individual consistency in either time-period, in keeping with our predictions. Food provisioning rate was a major determinant of annual variation in chick growth, and so it may seem surprising that Manx shearwaters showed repeatable patterns of chick growth but not of food provisioning, and several possible explanations for this pattern are discussed.

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