The Determination of Clutch Size in Precocial Birds

  • David W. Winkler
  • Jeffrey R. Walters
Part of the Current Ornithology book series (CUOR, volume 1)


The evolution and regulation of clutch size has long been a central issue in ornithology. Early ornithologists realized that females of each species of bird lay a characteristic number of eggs, and we have been trying to determine ever since why this is so. In pursuit of the answer to this seemingly simple question, ornithologists have not only accumulated a wealth of egg data, but also have made important contributions to such diverse topics as life-history strategies, population regulation and group selection. Yet how clutch size is determined remains a controversial issue. The consensus that was once sought in the form of a central theory (Lack, 1968; Cody, 1966; Klomp, 1970; von Haartman, 1971) has disappeared in a sea of specific hypotheses. In this review we attempt to organize and summarize clutch size theories as they emerge in modified form from recent research and evaluate their ability to explain observed patterns in clutch size variation. We concentrate on the literature and concepts published since the review of Klomp (1970), but we incorporate earlier work when necessary.


Parental Behavior Clutch Size Reproductive Effort Brood Size Breeding Biology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • David W. Winkler
    • 1
  • Jeffrey R. Walters
    • 2
  1. 1.Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Department of ZoologyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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