Coadaptation of offspring begging and parental provisioning : an evolutionary ecological perspective on avian family life
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Engineering sciences. Technology
, p. 1-9
University of Antwerp
Offspring begging and parental provisioning are the two central social behaviours expressed during the period of parental care. Both behaviours influence each other and it is, therefore, hypothesized that they should ultimately become (genetically) correlated, stabilized by fitness costs to parents and/or offspring. By reciprocally exchanging entire clutches in canaries (Serinus canaria), we tested (1) whether there is covariation between these behaviours and (2) whether a mismatch - as introduced by cross-fostering - entails costs. Begging was scored in a standardized begging test and parental provisioning was measured via (a) the actual feeding rate and (b) using the growth rate of the foster nestlings as a proxy. Costs were established in terms of future reproductive investment in subsequent clutches and offspring growth. We found a positive and significant phenotypic covariation between offspring begging and parental feeding when using the growth rate as a proxy and, to a lesser extent, in case of the parental feeding rate. Female parents suffered no future reproductive costs when feeding foster nestlings that were more demanding than their own nestlings. Neither growth measured amongst all offspring nor the reproductive investment measured amongst the female offspring as adults was influenced by their begging behaviour. However, the reproductive investment of female offspring tended to depend on the parental qualities of their foster parents. Thus, offspring may only be able to extract resources within the limit of generosity of their foster parents. This suggests parental control of feeding, which is also supported by the positive covariation between offspring begging and parental feeding.