acta ethologica

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 73–79 | Cite as

The function of habitat change during brood-rearing in the precocial Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus

  • András Kosztolányi
  • Tamás Székely
  • Innes C. Cuthill
Original Paper


Food availability is often variable during the breeding season. Parents with nonmobile, altricial young have no choice but to accept changes in local food availability, whereas in precocial animals, the parents may lead their young away from poor sites to areas that have rich resources and/or are safe from predators. We investigated the latter hypotheses in the Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus, a precocial shorebird that raises its young in two habitats: on lakeshore and in saltmarsh. Parents move with their broods from saltmarsh to lakeshore, especially late in the breeding season, and we hypothesized that lakeshores provide more food than the saltmarsh. Consistent with our hypotheses, plover chicks grew faster on the shore, and the difference in growth rates between the two habitats was amplified later in the breeding season. In addition, brood survival was higher on lakeshore than in saltmarsh and decreased with hatching date. Taken together, our results suggest that Kentish plover parents increase their reproductive success by switching brood-rearing habitats strategically.


Brood movement Parental care Habitat choice Precocial bird 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag and ISPA 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • András Kosztolányi
    • 1
  • Tamás Székely
    • 1
  • Innes C. Cuthill
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology and BiochemistryUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.Centre for Behavioural Biology, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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