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Clutch desertion and re-nesting are important components of fitness when predation is frequent. In nestbox populations however, nest predation and desertion are rare but can be studied by experimental manipulations. We experimentally reduced clutches of pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca, by removing one egg per day until desertion occurred. The size of the clutch at desertion and whether females re-nested or not were used as measures of the female response. Of the deserting females, 74% re-nested in our study area. Re-nesting frequency was correlated with date but not with the size of the clutch laid. The majority of the non-re-nesting females deserted empty nests, while the majority of re-nesting females deserted one egg. Clutch size at desertion was not correlated with the size of the clutch laid nor with laying date; it was smaller than the size predicted by an optimality analysis of the value of both the current (deserted) and the replacement clutch. For the re-nesting females, there was a negative correlation between fledging rate of the replacement clutch and the size of the clutch at desertion. Our predictions, made under the hypothesis that desertion and re-nesting are adaptive behaviours, were partly supported by the data; we explain the discrepancy by the constraint of searching for a new nest site or mate for re- nesting. (C) 1997 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. [KEYWORDS: Ficedula-hypoleuca; size]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-161
JournalAnimal Behaviour
StatePublished - 1997

ID: 300616