Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 45–50 | Cite as

Food abundance and parental care in yellow warblers (Dendroica petechia)

  • G. A. Lozano
  • R. E. Lemon


Emlen and Oring (1977) suggested that monogamy in birds is maintained because of the need for strict biparental care. A corollary of their suggestion is that paternal care should decrease under conditions of high food abundance. An alternative is that paternal care would increase if males take advantage of the higher food abundance by trying to reduce the length of the nestling feeding period. We tested these two ideas using yellow warblers (Dendroica petechia) by providing some pairs with supplemental food, thereby reducing the importance of biparental care. However, the extra food did not decrease paternal effort, nor did it increase it (Fig. 2). Early in the nestling period experimental females brooded more but visited their nestlings less than did control females, but later, when brooding times decreased, experimental females fed their nestlings more than did control females (Fig. 3). There were no significant differences in nestling survival (Fig. 5), but nestlings in the control treatment were larger and heavier up to 6 days old (Fig. 6). The main effect of supplemental food was on maternal, not paternal behaviour. Models of biparental care assume interdependence between the parental effort of both parents. In this species, however, males and females provide for their brood independently from each other.

Key words

Dendroica petechia Food Supplementation Parental care Maternal Care Nesting growth and survival 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. A. Lozano
    • 1
  • R. E. Lemon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyMcGill UniversityMontreal, QuebecCanada

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