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Context dependent effects of an experimental increase of hunger level in house sparrow nestlings

AuthorsRuiz-Castellano, Cristina ; Soler, Manuel; Rösler, Anja; Martín Gálvez, David ; Soler, Juan José
KeywordsCosts of reproduction
Family conflict
Parent-offspring communication
Parental investment
Parental response
Issue Date11-Apr-2016
CitationBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 70 (6): 939-949 (2016)
AbstractExploring the links between parental supply and nestling demands and between nestling demand and food supply is of central importance for understanding the evolution of parent-offspring communication. It has been suggested that optimal food supply by parents and begging effort of nestlings are context dependent, and we here test some predictions of this hypothesis. House sparrow (Passer domesticus) nestlings were experimentally fed with a pharmacological appetitive stimulant (cyproheptadine) that increases nestling demands, and explore its effect on nestling growth (i.e. body mass and tarsus length), which can be considered as the net payoff of inflated and costly offspring demand. As assumed by the experimental protocol, nestlings with an exaggerated demand were preferentially fed by parents. In accordance with the hypothesis, net benefits in terms of growth were mainly detected in first breeding attempt of parents that successfully reared three broods. Because costs associated with parental feeding should be lower for first breeding attempts and for parents of higher phenotypic quality (those able to successfully rear three clutches), our results provide to our knowledge, the first experimental evidence supporting a dynamic role of costs of food supply affecting net payoff of offspring demands, which may help to understand the mechanisms allowing the evolutionary equilibrium between intensities of offspring begging and parental provisioning.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00265-016-2115-1
Appears in Collections:(EEZA) Artículos
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