Exploring individual quality: basal metabolic rate and reproductive performance in storm-petrels

Document Type


Publication Date

June 2005


Despite evidence that some individuals achieve both superior reproductive performance and high survivorship, the factors underlying variation in individual quality are not well understood. The compensation and increased-intake hypotheses predict that basal metabolic rate (BMR) influences reproductive performance; if so, variation in BMR may be related to differences in individual quality. We evaluated whether BMR measured during the incubation period provides a proximate explanation for variation in individual quality by measuring the BMRs and reproductive performance of Leach's storm-petrels (Oceanodroma leucorhoa) breeding on Kent Island, New Brunswick, Canada, during 2000 and 2001. We statistically controlled for internal (body mass, breeding age, sex) and external (year, date, time of day) effects on BMR. We found that males with relatively low BMRs hatched their eggs earlier in the season and that their chicks' wing growth rates were faster compared to males with relatively high BMRs. Conversely, BMR was not related to egg volume, hatching date, or chick growth rate for females or to lifetime (≤23 years) hatching success for either sex. Thus, for males but not for females, our results support the compensation hypothesis. This hypothesis predicts that animals with low BMRs will achieve better reproductive performance than animals with high BMRs because they have lower self-maintenance costs and therefore can apportion more energy to reproduction. These results provide evidence that intraspecific variation in reproductive performance is related to BMR and suggest that BMR may influence individual quality in males.


Behavioral Ecology





First Page


Last Page