Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 184–194

Brood size manipulation affects frequency of second clutches in the blue tit

Original Article


The reproductive trade-off hypothesis predicts that the investment made in current reproduction determines the breeders’ future fitness as a consequence of intra-or inter-generational reproductive costs. Long-lived species are expected to favour their own reproductive value at the expense of their offspring, hence incurring in inter-generational costs, whereas short-lived species are expected to invest in the current breeding attempt even at the expense of their own survival, thus incurring in intra-generational costs. We tested whether intensity of current reproductive effort has intra-or inter-generational costs in a short-lived bird, the blue tit Parus caeruleus, with a brood size manipulation experiment. We expected more intra-generational (parental reproduction and/or survival) than inter-generational (offspring quality and survival) reproductive costs. We found that parental effort, measured as the hourly rate of parental visits to nests, increased gradually with experimental manipulation. Brood size manipulation resulted in a gradual increase in the number of fledglings per nest from reduced to increased treatments. We found an effect of the manipulation on the probability of making a second clutch, with adults rearing enlarged broods being less likely to undertake such a second reproduction during the season compared to those rearing control or decreased broods. We found no evidence of other reproductive costs; neither as adult weight after manipulation, apparent parental local survival, apparent offspring local survival or local recruitment. Although the results seem to support the a priori expectations, alternative explanations are discussed.


Parus caeruleus Brood size manipulation Parental effort Reproductive costs Non-breeding birds 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Fonctionnement et Évolution des Systèmes ÉcologiquesUniversité Pierre et Marie CurieParisFrance
  2. 2.Estación Experimental de Zonas ÁridasCSICAlmeríaSpain

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