Continuous laying and clutch-size limitation in Mallards

Todd W. Arnold, David W. Howerter, James H. Devries, Brian L. Joynt, Robert B. Emery, Michael G. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We assessed nutritional constraints on clutch size in Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) by observing incidence and consequences of continuous laying - the sequential production of eggs in two or more nest bowls. Continuous laying behavior was detected in 278 of 3,064 radiotracked Mallards (9.1%). Continuous laying females produced an average of 12.12 total eggs (SD = 2.70, range 5-18, n = 69), versus 8.90 eggs for normal nesting females (SD = 1.67, range 4-14, n = 587). On average, continuous laying females were 25 g heavier than noncontinuous laying females, and body mass was positively correlated with egg production among continuous laying females. Nest success was not affected by continuous laying, but continuous laying females that abandoned their nests were more likely to be young or to have laid a greater number of eggs. A large component of the breeding Mallard population can lay more eggs than they typically do, and there appear to be minimal consequences of that behavior. These observations appear inconsistent with the egg-formation hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-266
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


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