Provisioning tactics of great tits (Parus major) in response to long-term brood size manipulations differ across years

Kimberley J. Mathot, Anne-Lise Olson, Ariane Mutzel, Yimen G. Araya-Ajoy, Marion Nicolaus, David F. Westneat, Jonathan Wright, Bart Kempenaers, Niels J Dingemanse

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15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Parents provisioning their offspring can adopt different tactics to meet increases in offspring demand. In this study, we experimentally
manipulated brood demand in free living great tits (Parus major) via brood size manipulations and compared the tactics adopted by
parents in 2 successive years (2010 and 2011) with very different ecological conditions. In 2011, temperatures were warmer, there
were fewer days with precipitation, and caterpillars (the preferred prey of great tits) made up a significantly larger proportion of the
diet. In this “good” year, parents responded to experimental increases in brood demand by decreasing mean inter-visit intervals (IVIs)
and reducing prey selectivity, which produced equal average long-term delivery of food to nestlings across the brood size treatments.
In 2010, there was no evidence for effects of brood size manipulations on mean IVIs or prey selectivity. Consequently, nestlings from
enlarged broods experienced significantly lower long-term average delivery rates compared with nestlings from reduced broods. In
this “bad” year, parents also exhibited changes in the variance in inter-visit intervals (IVIs) as a function of treatment that were consistent
with variance-sensitive foraging theory: variance in IVIs tended to be lowest for reduced broods and highest for enlarged broods.
Importantly, this pattern differed significantly from that observed in the “good” year. We therefore found some support for variancesensitive
provisioning in the year with more challenging ecological conditions. Taken together, our results show that variation in brood
demand can result in markedly different parental foraging tactics depending on ecological conditions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Volume28
Issue number6
Early online date15-Jun-2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13-Nov-2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • brood demand
  • brood size manipulation,
  • heterogeneous residual variance
  • Parus major
  • provisioning behaviour
  • variance sensitivity
  • risk-sensitivity
  • FALLACY
  • REPRODUCTION
  • WILD SIBERIAN JAYS
  • PARENTAL CARE
  • ENERGY-EXPENDITURE
  • NESTLING DIET
  • MODELS
  • VARIANCE
  • AVERAGES
  • BEHAVIOR

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