Suboptimal conditions during embryonic development can affect offspring fitness. Both egg quality and incubation behavior can affect hatching success, hatching mass, and subsequent offspring performance. These effects may differ between male and female offspring. We manipulated the prebreeding body condition of Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata), using diets of different protein content. To separate possible effects on egg quality of parental body condition and incubation conditions, we did a cross-fostering experiment. We analyzed embryo survival and hatching mass with respect to body condition of the egg-laying parent, body condition of the incubating foster parent, and offspring sex. Embryos were not affected by the condition of the egg-laying parent. Eggs incubated by parents in better condition suffered less embryo mortality than those incubated by parents in poorer condition, but only when overall embryo mortality was low. Hatching mass was also affected by the incubating foster parent’s body condition. And hatchlings incubated by parents in good condition were heavier than those incubated by parents in poor condition. Female hatchlings from late-laid eggs were heavier, in comparison with the size of the egg from which they hatched, than female hatchlings from earlier-laid eggs. No such effect was found for males. Therefore, male and female embryos may differ in their sensitivity to suboptimal conditions during embryonic development. These results suggest that parental body condition during incubation can affect offspring fitness.
Efectos de las Condiciones de Incubación y el Sexo de las Crías sobre el Desarrollo Embrional y la Supervivencia en Taeniopygia guttata