The effect of parenting styles and biparental cooperation on reproductive success in the Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Molly Katherine Gooden (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Barbara Ballentine

Abstract: Socially monogamous birds use biparental care to off-set the high cost of energy, resources, andtime needed to successfully rear their offspring. To be effective, biparental care requirescooperation between the parents. While parental effort and task allocation have been well studiedin birds, less research has focused on how cooperation between parents affects their reproductive success. In this study, I investigated between-individual differences in parental behavior (i.e. parenting styles) and how parenting styles influence strategies of cooperation in Carolina Chickadees. I examined individual effort towards provisioning and nest defense to understand the variation in parenting styles among chickadee parents. I measured provisioning effort as visits per hour per chick during 8-hour observational periods using a video camera at the nest. I measured nest defense effort as the distance (m) from predator during 7-minute trials using a taxidermic predator near the nest. I estimated similarity between the parents using z-scores of parental behavior and I measured reproductive success as chick growth per day, fledgling mass, and number of chicks fledged. I found a statistically significant positive correlation in effort between provisioning and nest defense in individuals, so the degree of parental contribution was consistent across tasks. Further, I found that when male effort matched or exceeded femaleeffort, pairs produced larger chicks at fledging. Thus, the degree of parental contributionprovided by the male chickadee in a pair impacts chick quality. The results of this study suggestthat male parental contribution in Carolina Chickadees is critical when parents are dissimilar in their parental effort.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
biparental care, Carolina chickadee, cooperation, parental effort, parenting styles, reproductive success

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