Nest defence behaviour is similar between pair members but only male behaviour predicts nest survival in barnacle geese

F Speelman*, Martijn Hammers, Maarten J.J.E. Loonen, Jan Komdeur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Downloads (Pure)


Behavioural patterns often differ consistently across individuals and are linked to fitness. In species with biparental care, the defence behaviour of both parents can affect reproductive success through offspring survival. In addition to the intensity of defence behaviour by both pair members, the similarity in this behaviour among parents may affect offspring survival. However, few studies have investigated the relative impact of both the intensity and similarity of defence behaviour. Here, we examined nest defence behaviour of males and females during the incubation stage in an Arctic population of barnacle geese Branta leucopsis. We calculated the repeatability of defence behaviour to test whether this behaviour is consistent within individuals and investigated how it is associated with age. In addition, we investigated how daily survival rate (DSR) of the nests until hatching is associated with nest defence behaviour and age of the parents, as well as the effect of parent similarity in nest defence behaviour as an emergent trait of the pair bond. Both male and female defence behaviour were highly repeatable. The ages of both partners within breeding pairs were positively related, but age was only significantly associated with defence behaviour in females. Further, we found high similarity in defence behaviour within breeding pairs, but the similarity and intensity of defence behaviour within breeding pairs did not predict DSR. Finally, male defence behaviour positively predicted DSR, but female defence behaviour and male and female age did not. Our results suggest that nest protection is adaptive in males but behavioural similarity of pair members does not enhance nest survival, indicating behavioural similarity itself is not adaptive but rather a by-product of different effects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Avian Biology
Early online date11-Jul-2022
Publication statusPublished - 11-Jul-2022

Cite this