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Data from: Helper effects in the azure-winged magpie Cyanopica cyana in relation to highly-clumped nesting pattern and high frequency of conspecific nest-raiding

Citation

Ren, Qing-Miao et al. (2015), Data from: Helper effects in the azure-winged magpie Cyanopica cyana in relation to highly-clumped nesting pattern and high frequency of conspecific nest-raiding, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.6m8c0

Abstract

In avian cooperative breeding systems, many benefits obtained by social pairs from the presence of helpers have been uncovered. However, until now, the factors that determine the type of assistance helpers provide and the responses of social pairs have not been well illustrated. We examined the contribution of helpers to cooperative groups and the relevant responses of dominant pairs in the azure-winged magpie Cyanapica cyana which breeds on the Tibetan Plateau. We used the capture–mark–recapture method to identify helpers. Results showed that helpers were mostly the yearling sons of dominant pairs. They mainly contributed to the cooperative group in three ways, courtship-feeding the incubation female, provisioning the brood, and defending the nest. For responses of dominant pairs, we unexpectedly found that clutch size was not influenced by the presence of helpers at the nest. However, cooperative groups had higher brood feeding rates than biparental nests and their feeding pattern also differed to that of the latter. Consequently, nestlings in cooperative groups had larger fledging body mass than that in biparental nests. By examining reasons for nest failure, we revealed that conspecific nest-raiding contributed to more nest failure than any other natural predators. Because of the contribution of helpers in defending against both predators and conspecific nest-raiders, cooperative groups had higher survival rate than biparental nests. Thus, our findings suggest that in a highly-clumped nesting pattern, factors concerning the risk of nest predation, rather than that influencing food supply, play an important role in determining helper effects and responses of aided dominant pairs.

Usage Notes

Location

the Luqu County
China
Gansu Province