Alaska Science Center
Incubation rhythm in the fulmar Fulmarus glacialis: annual variation and sex roles
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Product Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hatch, S. A.
I monitored the incubation schedules of Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) in an Alaskan colony by observing nests where the male and female were of different colour phases. Complete shifts of up to 16 days were recorded; the average shift in mid-incubation was 4-6 days. Mean shift length was inversely correlated with hatching success in 5 years, suggesting that fulmars adjusted their foraging patterns to annual differences in food availability. Males assumed the larger share (55%) of incubation on average, and a larger share in years with lower hatching success. Serial correlation in the length of incubation shifts had two components--the influence of prior shift lengths on time spent foraging and individual variation. Failure of the male to relieve the female soon after laying resulted in a few breeding failures and egg losses were associated with exceptionally long shifts throughout incubation.