Macroevolution of life-history traits in passerine birds: Adaptation and phylogenetic inertia

Jason Pienaar, Amiyaal Ilany, Eli Geffen, Yoram Yom-Tov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We used a recent passerine phylogeny and comparative method to evaluate the macroevolution of body and egg mass, incubation and fledging periods, time to independence and time with parents of the main passerine lineages. We hypothesised that passerine reproductive traits are affected by adaptation to both past and present environmental factors and phenotypic attributes such as body mass. Our results suggest that the evolution of body and egg mass, time to independence, incubation and fledging times are affected by strong phylogenetic inertia and that these breeding traits are all affected by body mass. Time with parents, where major lineages exhibit their own fixed optima and body mass does not have an effect, and clutch size which is affected by body mass and additionally by climate regimes, do not exhibit any phylogenetic inertia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-576
Number of pages6
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Life history traits
  • Macroevolution
  • Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models
  • Passerines
  • Phylogeny


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