Shorebirds pp 243-287 | Cite as

The Evolution of Parental Behavior and Clutch Size in Shorebirds

  • Jeffrey R. Walters


In this chapter I consider two aspects of shorebird reproduction that are intimately related as components of life-history strategies: clutch size and parental behavior. That shorebirds with few exceptions do not feed their young, and that young are precocial, nidifugous, and relatively self-reliant, has led to the assumption that adults have little difficulty caring for their young. That is, it is generally assumed that parental care imposes few constraints on time and energy budgets of adult shorebirds (Kendeigh, 1952; Parmelee and Payne, 1973; Graul, 1973; Emlen and Oring, 1977; Welty, 1982, p. 293). This assumption has no empirical base, and data I collected from lapwings (Charadriidae, Vanellinae) indicate that parental care in fact imposes considerable demands on adults in at least some species. This justifies a reexamination of the parental care of shorebirds and of the assumption that clutch sizes are not limited by the ability of adults to care for young. This is further prompted by the lack of a satisfactory explanation of the limitation of clutch size in shorebirds.


Parental Behavior Clutch Size Brood Size Time Budget Active Tender 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey R. Walters
    • 1
  1. 1.Allee Laboratory of Animal BehaviorThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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