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Female blue tits adjust parental effort to manipulated male UV attractiveness

Limbourg, T. and Mateman, A.C. and Andersson, S. and Lessells, C.M. (2004) Female blue tits adjust parental effort to manipulated male UV attractiveness. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 271, 1903-1908. ISSN 0962-8452.

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The differential allocation hypothesis predicts that parents should adjust their current investment in relation to perceived mate attractiveness if this affects offspring fitness. It should be selectively advantageous to risk more of their future reproductive success by investing heavily in current offspring of high reproductive value but to decrease investment if offspring value is low. If the benefits of mate attractiveness are limited to a particular offspring sex we would instead expect relative investment in male versus female offspring to vary with mate attractiveness, referred to as 'differential sex allocation'. We present strong evidence for differential allocation of parental feeding effort in the wild and show an immediate effect on a component of offspring fitness. By experimentally reducing male UV crown coloration, a trait known to indicate attractiveness and viability in wild-breeding blue tits (Parus caeruleus), we show that females, but not males, reduce parental feeding rates and that this reduces the skeletal growth of offspring. However, differential sex allocation does not occur. We conclude that blue tit females use male UV coloration as an indicator of expected offspring fitness and adjust their investment accordingly. [KEYWORDS: differential allocation, differential sex allocation, parental effort, blue tit, UV coloration, mate attractiveness]

Item Type:Article
Institutes:Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO)
ID Code:11553
Deposited On:23 Nov 2011 01:00
Last Modified:31 Mar 2014 10:21

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