Energetics of contact incubation


Birds incubate their eggs by conduction from the brood patch: contact incubation.

The transfer of heat into an egg through a brood patch is very different from when an egg is sitting in air. Aming other things, contact incubationn opens up a range of adaptations that simply do not exist when an egg is sitting in air. The embryo's own circulatory system, for example, can manupulate its own energy budget in ways that are simply not possible for an egg sitting in air.

Because most models for the energetics of incubaton are based upon the physics of eggs cooling in air, this has led to some serious misconceptions about the energetic costs to the partent of incubationg eggs.

I worked out the energetics of heat exchange between contact-incubated eggs and the brood patch, which I hope provided a sounder physical understanding of the energetics of incubation in the real world.

Selected publications

Turner, J. S. (1991). The thermal energetics of incubated birds' eggs. Egg Incubation: Its Effects on Embryonic Development in Birds and Reptiles. D. C. Deeming and M. W. J. Ferguson. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 117-145.

J S Turner. 1987. Blood circulation and the flows of heat in an incubated egg. Journal of Experimental Zoology (Supplement 1): 99-104.

Incubation links



Contact warming