The relationship between female brooding and male nestling provisioning: does climate underlie geographic variation in sex roles?

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

2016

Author(s): 

Yoon, J., Sofaer, H.R., Sillett, T.S., Morrison, S.A. and Ghalambor, C.K.

Suggested Citation: 

Yoon, J., Sofaer, H.R., Sillett, T.S., Morrison, S.A. and Ghalambor, C.K. 2017. The relationship between female brooding and male nestling provisioning: does climate underlie geographic variation in sex roles? Journal of Avian Biololgy 48: 220–228. DOI: 10.1111/jav.00890

Comparative studies of populations occupying different environments can provide insights into the ecological conditions affecting differences in parental strategies, including the relative contributions of males and females. Male and female parental strategies reflect the interplay between ecological conditions, the contributions of the social mate, and the needs of offspring. Climate is expected to underlie geographic variation in incubation and brooding behavior, and can thereby affect both the absolute and relative contributions of each sex to other aspects of parental care such as offspring provisioning. However, geographic variation in brooding behavior has received much less attention than variation in incubation attentiveness or provisioning rates. We compared parental behavior during the nestling period in populations of orange-crowned warblers Oreothlypis celata near the northern (64°N) and southern (33°N) boundaries of the breeding range. In Alaska, we found that males were responsible for the majority of food delivery whereas the sexes contributed equally to provisioning in California. Higher male provisioning in Alaska appeared to facilitate a higher proportion of time females spent brooding the nestlings. Surprisingly, differences in brooding between populations could not be explained by variation in ambient temperature, which was similar between populations during the nestling period. While these results represent a single population contrast, they suggest additional hypotheses for the ecological correlates and evolutionary drivers of geographic variation in brooding behavior, and the factors that shape the contributions of each sex.

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Helen Sofaer
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