When successive stages in the life history of an animal directly overlap, physiological conflicts can arise resulting in carryover effects from one stage to another. The extreme egg-size dimorphism (ESD) of Eudyptes penguins, where the first-laid A-egg is approximately 18–57% smaller than the second-laid B-egg, has interested researchers for decades. Recent studies have linked variation in this trait to a carryover effect of migration that limits the physiology of yolk production and egg sizes. We assembled data on ESD and estimates of migration–reproduction overlap in penguin species and use phylogenetic methods to test the idea that migration–reproduction overlap explains variation in ESD. We show that migration overlap is generally restricted to Eudyptes relative to non-Eudyptes penguins, and that this overlap (defined as the amount of time that egg production occurs on land versus at sea during homeward migration) is significantly and positively correlated with the degree of ESD in Eudyptes. In the non-Eudyptes species, however, ESD was unrelated to migration overlap as these species mostly produce their clutches on land. Our results support the recent hypothesis that extreme ESD of Eudyptes penguins evolved, in part, as a response to selection for a pelagic overwinter migration behaviour. This resulted in a temporal overlap with, and thus a constraint on, the physiology of follicle development, leading to smaller A-egg size and greater ESD.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3473673.
- Received June 22, 2016.
- Accepted September 9, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.