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Enduring rules of care within pairs

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Ondertitel:how blue tit parents resume provisioning behaviour after experimental disturbance
Sexual conflict over parental investment can result in suboptimal reproductive output. A recent hypothesis suggests that equality in investment, and hence conflict resolution, may be reached via coordination of parental activities like alternating nest visits. However, how robust patterns of care within couples are against temporal disturbances that create asymmetries in parental investment remains as yet to be shown. We here experimentally created such a social disturbance in a wild population of biparental blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) when provisioning their nestlings. We randomly caught and subsequently released one of the parents when nestlings were 6 and 12 days old respectively. On average, the parent that was caught did not resume care for nearly two hours. We then compared the levels of individual investment and within-pair coordination before, during and after the absence of the disturbed parent. We show that the remaining parent partially compensated by increasing its provisioning rate, but this compensatory response was strongest in females when nestlings were 6 days old. Once the caught parent returned to feed its nestlings, both parents resumed provisioning at a similar rate as before the disturbance. Likewise, the within-pair alternation level quickly resembled the pre-manipulated level, independent of nestling age or which sex was caught. Thus our experiment highlights the resilience of parental behaviour against temporal disturbances of individual parents.
Tijdschrift: Scientific Reports
Volume: 9
Aantal pagina's: 9
Jaar van publicatie:2019