Repeatability of hematocrits and body mass of Gray Catbirds

Margret I. Hatch, Robert J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Hematocrits may provide information about the physiological condition of birds, but, to be a useful measure, information is needed concerning how hematocrits vary among individuals and over time. We examined the repeatability of hematocrits in a population of Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) in Pennsylvania at several time scales and also examined the repeatability of body mass, another measure commonly used as an indicator of condition. Both hematocrit (r= 0.64) and mass (r= 0.65) were repeatable (P < 0.01) for first captures between years and between first and second captures within a year (r= 0.41 and r= 0.50, respectively; P < 0.01), but not repeatable (P > 0.05) between captures in different months within a year (r= 0.11 for both). Repeatability of both measures differed by sex and age. Females exhibited repeatability of hematocrit and body mass only between years, while male hematocrits were repeatable between years and between first and second captures within a season. Male mass was repeatable for all time periods. Hematocrits of younger birds were repeatable between captures within a season and their body mass was repeatable between months and weeks while hematocrits of older birds were not repeatable and their body mass was repeatable only between captures in a season. Our results indicate that hematocrits and body mass had similar repeatability coefficients overall, but that hematocrits of Gray Catbirds were a consistent trait of individuals only across years. Because repeatability between captures and months depended on sex and age, we conclude that the hematocrit is a useful measure of individual performance only in limited circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-70
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Field Ornithology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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