Adaptations: Developmental Physiology
This chapter focuses on how breeding birds must allocate their energy optimally between offspring and self-maintenance so that lifetime reproductive success is maximized. This requires an investment of resources in eggs by the female. In many taxa the chemical potential energy invested in individual eggs in terms of lipids and proteins is only a small fraction of the total female's reproductive costs, and is generally deposited in the yolk follicles over a period of days prior to egg laying. Eggshell formation requires that the female bird must mobilize minerals (calcium and magnesium) from internal stores, while still maintaining mineral balance, or seek out calcium-rich foods in the period before and during egg laying. Breeding also requires that one or both parents spend time protecting the vulnerable eggs from predators during incubation. However, in many taxa, the largest energetic investments in the young are incurred during the so-called nestling periods, when food provision and self-maintenance can be expensive.
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