Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 307–312 | Cite as

Nestling American robins compete with siblings by begging

  • Henrik G. Smith
  • Robert Montgomerie
Article

Summary

The evolution of intense begging by dependent nestling birds has recently been the subject of several theoretical papers. The interesting problem here is that nestlings should be able to communicate their nutritional status to parents in ways that are less costly energetically and less likely to attract predators. Thus, conspicuous begging behaviour is thought to have evolved as a result of either competition among nestmates or the manipulation of their parents to provide more food than would otherwise be favoured by selection. We studied sibling competition for parental feedings in the American robin (Turdus migratorius). We demonstrate that the probability that an individual nestling received food was related to several indices of begging. When we experimentally prevented parents from feeding part of their brood, both the intensity of begging and the number of feedings subsequently received by food-deprived nestlings increased. Furthermore, the begging intensity of those nestlings that were not food-deprived also increased in response to the begging of their hungrier siblings.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bengtsson H, Rydén O (1981) Development of parent-young interactions in asynchronously hatched broods of altricial birds. Z Tierpsychol 56:255–272Google Scholar
  2. Bengtsson H, Rydén O (1983) Parental feeding rate in relation to begging behavior in asynchronously hatched broods of the great tit Parus major. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 12:243–251Google Scholar
  3. Dawkins R (1976) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Drummond H; Chavelas CG (1989) Food shortage influences sibling aggression in the blue-footed booby. Anim Behav 37:269–276Google Scholar
  5. Gottlander K (1987) Parental feeding behaviour and sibling competition in the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca. Ornis Scand 18:269–276Google Scholar
  6. Greig-Smith PJ (1985) Weight differences, brood reduction, and sibling competition among nestling stonechats Saxicola torquato (Aves: Turdidae). J Zool (Lond) 205:453–465Google Scholar
  7. Haartman LV von (1953) Was reizt den Trauerfliegenschnäpper (Muscicapa hypoleuca) zu füttern? Vogelwarte 16:157–164Google Scholar
  8. Harper AB (1986) The evolution of begging: sibling competition and parent-offspring conflict. Am Nat 128:99–114Google Scholar
  9. Henderson BA (1975) Role of the chick's begging behavior in the regulation of parental feeding behavior of Larus glaucescens. Condor 77:488–492Google Scholar
  10. Hurlbert SH (1984) Pseudoreplication and the design of ecological field experiments. Ecol Monogr 54:187–211Google Scholar
  11. Hussell DJT (1988) Supply and demand in tree swallow broods: a model of parent-offspring food-provisioning interactions in birds. Am Nat 131:175–202Google Scholar
  12. Krebs JR, Dawkins R (1984) Animal signals: mind reading and manipulation. In: Krebs JR, Davies NB (eds) Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approac, 2nd edn. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 380–402Google Scholar
  13. Lima SL (1987) Clutch size in birds: a predation perspective. Ecology 68:1062–1070Google Scholar
  14. Lockie JD (1955) The breeding and feeding of jackdaws and rooks with notes on carrion crows and other Corvidae. Ecology 97:341–369Google Scholar
  15. Löhrl H (1968) Das Nesthäkchen als biologisches Problem. J Ornithol 109:383–395Google Scholar
  16. Macnair MR, Parker GA (1979) Models of parent-offspring conflict. III. Intra-brood conflict. Anim Behav 27:1202–1209Google Scholar
  17. Maynard Smith J (1974) The theory of games and the evolution of animal conflicts. J Theor Biol 47:209–221Google Scholar
  18. Muller RE, Smith RE (1978) Parent-offspring interactions in zebra finches. Auk 95:495–495Google Scholar
  19. Parker GA (1985) Models of parent-offspring conflict. V. Effects of the behaviour of the two parents. Anim Behav 33:519–533Google Scholar
  20. Parker GA, Macnair MR (1979) Models of parent-offspring conflict. IV. Suppression: evolutionary retaliation by the parent. Anim Behav 27:1210–1235Google Scholar
  21. Ploger BJ, Mock DW (1986) Role of sibling aggression in food distribution to nestling cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis). Auk 103:768–776Google Scholar
  22. Rydén O, Bengtsson H (1980) Differential begging and locomotory behaviour by early and late hatched nestlings affecting the distribution of food in asynchronously hatched broods of altricial birds. Z Tierpsychol 53:209–224Google Scholar
  23. Siegel S, Castellan NJ Jr (1988) Nonparametric statistics for the behavioral sciences, 2nd edn. McGraw Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Skutch AF (1949) Do tropical birds rear as many young as they can nourish? Ibis 91:430–455Google Scholar
  25. Stamps JA, Metcalf RA, Krishnan VV (1978) A genetic analysis of parent-offspring conflict. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 3:369–392Google Scholar
  26. Stamps J, Clark A, Arrowood P, Kus B (1985) Parent-offspring conflict in budgerigars. Behaviour 94:1–40Google Scholar
  27. Stamps J, Clark A, Arrowood P, Kus B (1989) Begging behavior in budgerigars. Ethology 81:177–192Google Scholar
  28. Trivers RL (1972) Parental investment and sexual selection. In: Campbell B (ed) Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871–1971. Aldine, Chicago, pp 136–179Google Scholar
  29. Trivers RL (1974) Parent-offspring conflict. Am Zool 14:249–264Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrik G. Smith
    • 1
  • Robert Montgomerie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada

Personalised recommendations