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Male songbirds provide indirect parental care by guarding females during incubation

Behavioral Ecology

By:
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DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arp094

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Abstract

Across many taxa, guarding of fertile mates is a widespread tactic that enhances paternity assurance. However, guarding of mates can also occur during the nonfertile period, and the fitness benefits of this behavior are unclear. Male songbirds, for example, sometimes guard nonfertile females during foraging recesses from incubation. We hypothesized that guarding postreproductive mates may have important, but unrecognized, benefits by enhancing female foraging efficiency, thereby increasing time spent incubating eggs. We tested the hypothesis in 2 songbird species by examining female behavior during natural and experimentally induced absences of males. Male absence caused increased vigilance in foraging females that decreased their efficiency and resulted in less time spent incubating eggs. Male guarding of nonfertile females can thus provide a previously unrecognized form of indirect parental care.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Male songbirds provide indirect parental care by guarding females during incubation
Series title:
Behavioral Ecology
DOI:
10.1093/beheco/arp094
Volume
20
Issue:
5
Year Published:
2009
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
1034
Last page:
1038
Number of Pages:
5