Clutch, egg and body size variation among common eiders breeding in Hudson Bay, Canada

  • Gregory J. Robertson
  • Austin Reed
  • H. Grant Gilchrist


The Hudson Bay common eider (Somateria molissima sedentaria) is a unique subspecies of eider that remains within the confines of Hudson Bay throughout the year. We compared clutch, egg and body size variation among populations of common eiders breeding in eastern and western Hudson Bay. Clutch size did not differ substantially among these populations. All eiders in Hudson Bay laid larger clutches than other subspecies in eastern North America. As Hudson Bay common eiders do not undergo extensive migrations, they may have more energy reserves available to them for egg production. Eiders nesting in eastern Hudson Bay laid larger eggs than eiders nesting in western Hudson Bay. Further, eiders in eastern Hudson Bay tended to be structurally larger, but had smaller bill processes. These differences may have a genetic basis. Smaller egg size and body size may arise in western Hudson Bay from mixing with the smaller borealis subspecies nesting to the north. Further work to resolve genetic affinities, determine levels of male and female dispersal, and examine variation in reproductive ecology are needed to resolve the sources of these differences.


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How to Cite
Robertson, G. J., Reed, A., & Gilchrist, H. G. (2001). Clutch, egg and body size variation among common eiders breeding in Hudson Bay, Canada. Polar Research, 20(1), 85-94.
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