Variation in size and composition of Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) and Barrow’s Goldeneye (B. slandica) eggs

Jennifer L. Lavers, Jonathan E. Thompson, Cynthia A. Paszkowski, C. Davison Ankney

The Wilson Bulletin 118: 173-177 (2006)

We investigated the relationships between egg nutrient constituents and fresh egg mass in Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) and Barrow's Goldeneye (B. islandica). We found consistently positive relationships between egg mass and yolk, albumen, lipid, mineral, and water (absolute amounts); however, the proportions of nutrient components to fresh mass were highly variable in the eggs of both species (allometric relationships). In Bufflehead eggs, all components except mineral exhibited negative allometry with fresh egg mass. In Barrow's Goldeneye eggs, only mineral exhibited negative allometry, whereas yolk, lipid, and water all exhibited positive allometry with fresh egg mass. Overall, larger eggs of both species contained greater absolute amounts of nutrients; therefore, larger eggs were of better quality than smaller eggs. Nutrient content, however, was more highly correlated with mass in Barrow's Goldeneye eggs than in Bufflehead eggs. We propose that this may be due to the source of egg nutrients: because of their smaller body size, Buffleheads typically rely more on exogenous nutrients than Barrow's Goldeneyes