TEMPORAL PATTERNS OF PARENTAL RESOURCE DISTRIBUTION IN THE RED-NECKED GREBE: EQUALIZING THE SHARE OF THE SURVIVORS

in Behaviour
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Abstract

Food distribution within brood and parental aggression to chicks were studied in the asynchronously hatching red-necked grebe Podiceps grisegena throughout the whole period of parental care. When carrying young - during the first two weeks after hatching - parents did not interfere in sibling competition for food. The proportions of food received by each brood member reflected the dominance hierarchy. After this period, parents showed aggression to offspring, especially to the older chicks and the within-brood hierarchy of received food was gradually reversed. Junior chicks were also longer cared for than their older sibling. Male and female parents did not differ in the food apportionment among differentrank chicks. It is suggested that red-necked grebe parents change the within-brood investment allocation over time. In the first weeks after hatching, they allow biased food distribution and in consequence even brood reduction. Later, they intervene in resource allocation and attempt to equalize the post-fledging survival of all chicks. Parental aggression appears to be a means both for counteracting the competitive advantage of older sibs and for forcing the chicks to independence.

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