The influence of kinship on foraging competition in Siberian jays
Foraging competition in Siberian jay groups was examined in relation to dominance and kinship to determine whether juvenile offspring, by associating with adults, gained in food acquisition relative to juvenile immigrants. Members of the adult pair were dominant over juvenile cohort members and males were dominant to females, although an inter-sexual hierarchy, with male juveniles occasionally overlapping adult females, was suggested. Few competitive asymmetries were found between adults and retained offspring or adults and immigrant juveniles when they were competing for food together, but in kin and non-kin foraging groups, respectively. Male offspring visited the bait site more frequently than adult males, and female immigrants spent less time at the bait site than adult females. Under these circumstances, hoarding activities may limit the ability of alpha members to control resources. In mixed groups containing both juvenile offspring and juvenile immigrants, no difference was found in the number of visits made to the bait site, although load sizes and foraging rates were lower for immigrant birds. Retained juveniles obtained greater load sizes and foraging rates when associating with adults. The social dominance of parents suggests that they control juvenile foraging. Although offspring benefit in the presence of adults, adults may incur a cost to their restraint by spending more time at the bait site when competing with immigrants. These results extend conclusions from previous work describing the role of selective tolerance by adults which relaxes competition with retained offspring in Siberian jay winter groups. The present findings suggest that offspring benefit in both immediate and future energy gains, which may have a direct influence on survival.
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