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The adaptive significance of stealing in a marine bird and its relationship to parental quality

Behavioral Ecology

6288_Shealer.pdf
By:
, , , and
DOI: 10.1093/beheco/ari008

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Abstract

Kleptoparasitism (food theft) is a tactic used opportunistically by many foraging birds, but little is known about its fitness benefits. Here we show that habitual kleptoparasitism by individual parent roseate terns (Sterna dougallii) is associated with consistently superior reproductive performance relative to nonkleptoparasitic ('honest') parents, as measured by growth and survival to fledging among their offspring. In broods of two, both chicks of kleptoparasitic parents exhibited superior growth performance during the middle and later stages of the rearing period, relative to chicks of honest parents. This difference was especially pronounced in second-hatched chicks, whose survival is highly variable among years and dependent on food availability. Over a 10-year period, average productivity (number of chicks fledged per pair) was significantly higher among kleptoparasites than among honest parents, with a larger relative difference during years of food shortage. Our study indicates that kleptoparasitism in roseate terns is an important component of parental quality and provides the first evidence that food stealing is associated with enhanced fitness in a facultatively kleptoparasitic seabird.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
The adaptive significance of stealing in a marine bird and its relationship to parental quality
Series title:
Behavioral Ecology
DOI:
10.1093/beheco/ari008
Volume
16
Issue:
2
Year Published:
2005
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description:
371-376
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Behavioral Ecology
First page:
371
Last page:
376