Comparison of micrometer- and scanning electron microscope-based measurements of avian eggshell thickness

Publication Title

Journal of Field Ornithology

Document Type


Department or Program


Publication Date



Avian eggshell, Electron microscope, Thickness measurement, Tolerance interval


The study of avian eggshell structure, including composition, pigmentation, thickness, and strength, has important ecological and economic implications. Previous investigators have used a variety of techniques to derive either direct measures or indirect estimates of eggshell thickness. Assessing the repeatability and method agreement of different techniques is necessary to permit comparison of eggshell thickness values from different studies on various genetic stocks, populations, and species. We recorded and analyzed measurements of eggshell thickness using two methods, micrometers and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), for several Palaeognathae and Neognathae taxa, including nonpasserines and passerines. Applying a tolerance-interval approach, we found that repeatability of measurements for eggs with thinner shells (< 300 μm, all Neognathae taxa) was worse than for eggs with thicker shells (Palaeognathae taxa), but was still statistically and biologically reasonable given that the relative magnitude of intramethod agreements was < 11%. Our results support previous predictions that measurements made using a micrometer are comparable to those made using SEM. This finding is particularly important given the relative ease and cost efficiency of the micrometer method. Importantly, these new analyses can be used to validate the use of published data from previous studies of micrometer-based eggshell thickness for both intra- and interspecific comparisons. © 2010 The Authors. Journal of Field Ornithology © 2010 Association of Field Ornithologists.


Original version is available from the publisher at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1557-9263.2010.00296.x

Copyright Note

Copyright © 2010 Association of Field Ornithologists.