Sex-specific patterns of minimal compensation of care during and after short term mate removal in biparental blue tits

Mainwaring, M.C. and Hartley, I.R. (2020) Sex-specific patterns of minimal compensation of care during and after short term mate removal in biparental blue tits. Behavioural Processes, 173. ISSN 0376-6357

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Early theoretical models predicted that over evolutionary timescales, changes in effort by one biparental parent should result in incomplete compensation by the other. Empirical studies, however, report responses ranging from no compensation through to complete compensation which may mean that parents respond to each other's efforts over short time scales, as predicted by some recent theoretical models. Few studies have examined behavioural changes over short time periods which mimic the onset of reduced effort so we removed one blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) parent for 20 min during nestling provisioning. We then quantified the provisioning rates of both parents for 60 min ‘pre-removal’, the non-removed partner during the 20 min ‘removal’ period and both parents for 60 min ‘post-removal’. When compared to pre-removal, both sexes reduced their provisioning rates during the removal stage and also during the post-removal stage. There were, however, sex-specific provisioning patterns in the hour after the parent was returned because after females were released, males began provisioning at a relatively high rate and then maintained that rate across the hour after removal whereas after males were released, females began provisioning at a low rate but significantly increased thereafter. There was no long term effect on offspring fitness, which probably reflects the short time parents were removed and so we conclude that parents with biparental care adjust their provisioning rates to successfully overcome very short term decreases in care.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Behavioural Processes
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This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Behavioural Processes. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Behavioural Processes, 173, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2019.104026
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27 Feb 2020 14:30
Last Modified:
18 Sep 2023 01:44