Cross-fostering mismatches parent-offspring behaviors but this does not entail costs to family life
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Behavioral ecology and sociobiology. - Berlin
, p. 1019-1028
University of Antwerp
Early family life is characterized by a close interaction between parents and their offspring. This needs to be disentangled when studying the ontogeny and evolution of a given behaviore.g. via cross-fostering. But cross-fostering may change the expression of parent and offspring behaviors as they may respond to the novel environment. Furthermore, parent and offspring traits are potentially co-adjusted and cross-fostering may, therefore, introduce a costly mismatch. To study such consequences of cross-fostering, we created an experimental group (EG) of broods raised by foster parents from day 3 onwards and a control group of broods raised by their biological parents throughout. We tested offspring begging intensity in all broods and the provisioning of the EG-parents only, both on day 3 just before cross-fostering and then again on day 5. Costs were estimated in terms of growth and survival (offspring costs) and mass of a second clutch (parental costs). Offspring begging intensity varied with age, but this change was neither affected by cross-fostering per se nor by small-scale differences in parental provisioning between biological and foster parents. Similarly, the change in parental provisioning with offspring age among the EG-parents was not affected by the difference in begging between biological and foster nestlings. This lack in behavioral plasticity in response to cross-fostering did not entail costs to neither of the parties. Our results suggest a rather predetermined pattern of behavioral expression, which may be shaped by limits and costs to plasticity and/or an (apparent) lack of costs of a behavioral mismatch.