On the coadaptation of offspring begging and parental supply : a within-individual approach across life stages
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Behavioral ecology and sociobiology. - Berlin
, p. 1481-1491
University of Antwerp
Parental care is often characterized by complex behavioral interactions between offspring soliciting for food and parents providing food. During this interplay both behaviors, offspring begging and parental provisioning, can exert a selective pressure on the expression of the other. It has, therefore, been predicted that traits involved in this interplay may coevolve and ultimately become (genetically) correlated. Such covariation hasat least at the phenotypic levelbeen found in a number of cross-fostering studies, including evidence from the canary (Serinus canaria), our model species. However, a common challenge for these studies has been to establish a genetic covariation given the difficulty to disentangle the relative contribution of genetic and maternal effects, as the latter may act already before cross-fostering. We addressed this problem by studying within-individual covariation between begging (expressed at the nestling stage) and provisioning (expressed at the adult stage). In addition, we estimated the degree of heritability of these behaviors using parent-offspring regressions, as inheritance forms a prerequisite for any genetic correlation. Both traits showed a low to moderate non-significant heritability, similar to those previously reported in other bird species. However, offspring begging and parental provisioning did not covary at the intra-individual level. Thus, individuals begging intensively as nestlings were not necessarily individuals that provided more food as adults or vice versa. These findings provide important insights for our understanding of coadaptation, suggesting that factors other than genes such as maternal effects may play a role in adjusting offspring begging to the levels of parental provisioning.