Journal für Ornithologie

, Volume 139, Issue 3, pp 297–305 | Cite as

The dynamics of parental care in Choughs(Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)

  • Paola Laiolo
  • Eric M. Bignal
  • Ian J. Patterson
Article

Summary

The dynamics of parental investment throughout the nestling stage and the factors affecting it were studied in the Chough(Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), a species whose patterns of apportioning parental care are largely unknown. The occurrence of important trade-offs between the sexes, among the different activities of parental care and between parents' survival and current offspring survival were estimated. The parental contributions of both sexes were assessed mainly in terms of food provisioning rate and nest attendance time. Only the female brooded young nestlings while the two sexes contributed equally in food deliveries and nest sanitation. Nestling age greatly affected nest attendance time. The female spent a long time brooding in the first 10 days after hatching. Both sexes increased attendance towards the end of the nestling stage. Conversely, feeding rate and feeding rate per nestling remained approximately constant throughout the nestling period. Nestlings in smaller broods received more feeding visits than those in larger broods. The shape of the per-nestling feeding rate curve was ‚concave-up’, supporting Nur's (1984) ‚trade-offs model’ rather than the Lack-Gibb hypothesis. Maintaining a high feeding frequency in broods already above the modal value might be disadvantageous, implying few benefits and large energy costs (i.e. the reduction of the parents' residual reproductive value). Female brooding time in relation to brood size showed the same decreasing ‚concave-up’ trend line. Short-term trade-offs proved to be important determinants of the dynamics of parental care. Specifically, the distance from the feeding areas greatly affected the delivery rate: pairs spent a disproportionately longer time foraging in more distant patches than in closer ones. Diurnal variations and changes owing to weather conditions were also examined.

Key words

parental investment feeding rate brood size Lack-Gibb model Nur model 

Die Dynamik elterlicher Investition bei der Alpenkrähe(Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)

Zusammenfassung

Der elterliche Aufwand und die geschlechtliche Verteilung des Brutaufwandes bei Alpenkrähen ist weitgehend unbekannt. Ziel der Arbeit war es deshalb, die verschiedenen Aktivitäten der elterlichen Brutversorgung und deren Konsequenzen für die Überlebensverhältnisse der Eltern und des Nachwuchses näher zu untersuchen. Die Fütterung der Brut und die Anwesenheit und Betreuung am Nest standen im Mittelpunkt. Während nur das Weibchen brütete, teilten sich die Eltern die Jungenaufzucht und die Pflege des Nestes etwa gleichmäßig, wobei das Nestlingsalter einen erheblichen Einfluß auf die Nestversorgung hatte. In den ersten 10 Tagen huderte das Weibchen intensiv. Beide Eltern steigerten ihre Brutpflege zum Ende der Nestlingszeit. Dagegen blieben die Fütterungsrate und die Anzahl Fütterungen je Nestling über die gesamte Nestlingszeit in etwa konstant. Junge in kleineren Bruten erhielten mehr Fütterungen als solche in großen. Der Verlauf der Abhängigkeit der Fütterungen je Nestling von der Brutgröße stützt mehr die Hypothese von Nur (1984) als die von Lack und Gibb. Die Aufrechterhaltung einer hohen Fütterungsrate auch bei großen Bruten dürfte nachteilig sein, da sie nur wenig Nutzen bei einem hohen Aufwand (Beeinträchtigung der späteren Brutmöglichkeiten) bringt. Der Huderaufwand des Weibchens zeigt in etwa denselben Zusammenhang mit der Brutgröße. Kurzzeitige elterliche Entscheidungen scheinen eine wichtige Rolle in der Regulation der elterlichen Brutpflege zu spielen. Dabei kommt gerade der räumlichen Lage der Nahrungsplätze eine große Bedeutung zu: an weiter entfernt gelegenen Nahrungsplätzen verbrachten die Eltern unverhältnismäßig mehr Zeit als an nahen Futterplätzen. Daneben haben die Tageszeit und das Wetter einen Einfluß auf die elterliche Brutfürsorge der Alpenkrähen.

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Copyright information

© Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft/Blackwell Wissenschafts-Verlag 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paola Laiolo
    • 1
  • Eric M. Bignal
    • 2
  • Ian J. Patterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Culterty Field StationAberdeen UniversityNewburgh EllonU.K.
  2. 2.Kindrochaid, BruilladdichIsle of IslayU.K.

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