The Influence of Age on the Breeding Biology of Colonial Nesting Seabirds

  • John P. Ryder


In 1938 Fraser Darling enunciated his now famous hypothesis known as the Fraser Darling effect. He suggested, from investigations with Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls (L. fuscus), that the main advantage to birds nesting in colonies was that the individuals received what he termed “social stimulation.” The result of such stimulation was, “in almost all cases that the larger colonies not only start laying earlier, but the time taken by the whole colonies to lay their crop of eggs is shorter than in the colonies of lesser numbers” (Darling, 1938, p. 67). Darling stated “... the most obvious interpretation is to be found in the total value of visual auditory stimulation for each pair in the larger flocks, compared with the total amount of such stimulation in the smaller flocks.” He concluded that breeding synchrony, realized by social stimulation, may be density related (Darling, 1938, p. 55).


Clutch Size Young Bird Breeding Biology Herring Gull Sooty Tern 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • John P. Ryder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyLakehead UniversityThunder BayCanada

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