In dense breeding colonies, and despite having no nest structure, common murres (or guillemots: Uria aalge) are still able to identify their own eggs. Each female murre's egg is thought to be recognized individually by the shell's avian-perceivable traits. This is because the eggshells’ visible traits conform to expectations of the identity-signaling hypothesis in that they show both high intraindividual repeatability and high interindividual variability. Identity signaling also predicts a lack of correlation between each of the putative multicomponent recognition traits, yielding no significant relationships between those eggshell traits that are generated by mutually exclusive physiological factors. Using a multivariate analysis across eggshell size and shape, avian-perceivable background coloration, spot (maculation) shape, and spot density, we detected no unexpected statistical correlations between Icelandic common murre egg traits lacking known physiological or mathematical relationships with one another. These results biologically replicate the conclusions of a recent eggshell trait study of Canadian common murres using similar methodology. We also demonstrate the use of static correlations to infer identity signaling function without direct behavioral observations, which in turn may also be applied to rare or extinct species and provide valuable insight into otherwise unknown communicative and behavioral functions.
- perceptual modeling
- recognition systems
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation