Asymmetric contests at the nest

Roni Ostreiher, Stephen Pruett-Jones, Aviad Heifetz

פרסום מחקרי: פרסום בכתב עתמאמרביקורת עמיתים


Hatching asynchrony of nestling birds leads to weight asymmetries, which in turn affect the nestlings' relative success when competing for feedings brought to the nest. We present a game theoretic model that predicts how weight asymmetry influences the nestlings' energy on securing feedings, thus determining the caloric value remaining for weight gain as well as the distribution of feedings obtained. The model has a unique Evolutionary Stable Strategy (ESS) profile, in which nestlings in more asymmetric nests exhibit less aggression and hence achieve larger weight gain per feeding. The impetus for this model was data from a long-term study of Arabian babblers (Turdoides squamiceps) that showed a surprising negative correlation between the number of feedings that a nest received and the overall weight gain in the nest. This finding is, however, entirely consistent with our model-in more symmetric nests, the individuals fight more and are consequently hungrier and beg for additional food, are fed more, but still gain less weight due to the higher energetic costs of fighting. The model provides a fundamental explanation also for related findings in other species, in which chicks in asynchronous broods were found to be heavier than those from synchronous broods. In addition, it supports the sibling rivalry hypothesis by which brood asynchrony may diminish aggressive interactions among nestlings, leading to more efficient use of resources.

שפה מקוריתאנגלית
עמודים (מ-עד)1237-1246
מספר עמודים10
כתב עתBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
מספר גיליון9
מזהי עצם דיגיטלי (DOIs)
סטטוס פרסוםפורסם - ספט׳ 2012

הערה ביבליוגרפית

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We wish to thank Amotz and Avishag Zahavi, Avner Anava, Yoel Perel, and Yuval Dagay for their help during fieldwork as well as for fruitful discussions, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and Hazeva Field Study Center for the long-term hospitality, and Scott Forbes and an anonymous reviewer for critical comments. We also wish to thank the MEDS Department at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University for their hospitality and collegiality to A.H. during a 2-year visit there when the theoretical portions of this study were completed. S.P-J. was supported, in part, by The Women’s Board at University of Chicago.

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