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Data from: Individual variation in parental workload and breeding productivity in female European starlings: is the effort worth it?

Citation

Fowler, Melinda A.; Williams, Tony D. (2016), Data from: Individual variation in parental workload and breeding productivity in female European starlings: is the effort worth it?, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.63n3f

Abstract

We analyzed individual variation in work load (nest visit rate) during chick-rearing, and the consequences of this variation in terms of breeding productivity, in a highly synchronous breeder, the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) focusing on female birds. There was marked (10- to 16-fold) variation in total, female and male nest visit rates, among individuals, but individual variation in female nest visit rate was independent of environment (rainfall, temperature) and metrics of individual quality (laying date, clutch size, amount of male provisioning help), and was only weakly associated with chick demand (i.e., day 6 brood size). Female nest visit rate was independent of date and experimentally delayed birds provisioned at the same rate as peak-nesting birds; supporting a lack of effect of date per se. Brood size at fledging was positively but weakly related to total nest visit rate (male + female), with >fivefold variation in nest visit rate for any given brood size, and in females brood size at fledging and chick mass at fledging were independent of female nest visit rate, that is, individual variation in workload was not associated with higher productivity. Nevertheless, nest visit rate in females was repeatable among consecutive days (6–8 posthatching), and between peak (first) and second broods, but not among years. Our data suggest that individual females behave as if committed to a certain level of parental care at the outset of their annual breeding attempt, but this varies among years, that is, behavior is not fixed throughout an individual's life but represents an annually variable decision. We suggest females are making predictable decisions about their workload during provisioning that maximizes their overall fitness based on an integration of information on their current environment (although these cues currently remain unidentified).

Usage Notes

Location

Canada
British Columbia