Alternative reproductive tactics often take the form of dichotomous behavioural phenotypes. Focusing attention on such obvious dichotomy means that flexible patterns of behaviour within tactics is largely ignored. Using a long-term dataset of black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix) lek behaviours, we tested whether there were fine-scale differences in reproductive effort (lek attendance, fighting rates) and whether these were related to age and phenotype. Yearling males increased their lek attendance and fighting rate to a peak when adult male effort was declining. Adults and yearlings allocated reproductive effort according to their body mass but this was unrelated to differences in timing of effort. In adult males, different patterns of lek attendance were associated with different costs of reproduction, measured by mass loss or gain. Overall, our work demonstrates that individuals can use flexible patterns of reproductive effort both in terms of their own condition, their age and the likely costs of behaviours.
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