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Destruction of a conspecific nest by a female Superb Lyrebird: evidence for reproductive suppression in a bird with female-only parental care

In: Behaviour
Authors:
Victoria I. AustinHawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury Campus, Ground Floor, Building R2, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1076-6352
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Justin A. WelbergenHawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Hawkesbury Campus, Ground Floor, Building R2, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia

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Alex C. MaiseyDepartment of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC 3086, Australia
Research Centre for Future Landscapes, La Trobe University, Bundoora, VIC 3086, Australia
Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group, 30 Moores Road, Monbulk, VIC 3793, Australia

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Meghan G. LindsaySherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group, 30 Moores Road, Monbulk, VIC 3793, Australia

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Anastasia H. DalziellCentre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

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Abstract

Reproductive suppression, whereby individuals decrease the reproductive output of conspecific rivals, is well-studied in mammals, but while it is suspected to be widespread in birds, evidence of this phenomenon remains rare in this class. Here we provide compelling evidence of reproductive suppression in the Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandie), with the first audio-visual documentation of the destruction of one female’s nest by another. We propose that nest destruction may be a strategy that females use in protracted territorial negotiations spanning multiple breeding seasons, and discuss how reproductive suppression could explain puzzling nesting behaviours in this species, such as the construction of multiple unfinished nests in each breeding season. More broadly, these results reveal high intra-sexual competition among female lyrebirds, and thus may provide an explanation for their elaborate vocal displays.

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