Task partitioning increases reproductive output in a cooperative bird

Behavioral Ecology (Impact Factor: 3.22). 01/2008; 19(6):1136-1142. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arn097
Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT Parents often face a trade-off between the quality and quantity of young produced because terminating investment in current young could result in lower survival and future reproductive success, whereas initiating new breeding attempts could result in greater production of young. In cooperatively breeding species, helpers may alleviate this trade-off by assuming the role of primary caregivers to first broods, liberating breeders to initiate subsequent breeding attempts without compromising the level of care offspring receive. Here, we investigate the occurrence and consequences of brood overlap in the cooperatively breeding pied babbler (Turdoides bicolor). Brood overlap occurred only in groups and resulted in breeders primarily investing in second broods while helpers continued to provide care to first broods, resulting in dependent young from overlapping broods being raised simultaneously. Interbrood partitioning of care during brood overlap resulted in a greater production of young per season in groups (cf., pairs) without any effect on offspring survival, thus representing a reproductive benefit of task partitioning in cooperatively breeding species. Copyright 2008, Oxford University Press.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The southern African subspecies of Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus serratus is a brood parasite of a range of host species. While Jacobin Cuckoos do not evict host young, previous research has found that host young rarely survive the nestling period. Here we provide the first records of Jacobin Cuckoo parasitism of a new host species, the Southern Pied Babbler Turdoides bicolor. We investigate rates of brood parasitism and the survival of host young. The Southern Pied Babbler is one of the largest recorded hosts for Jacobin Cuckoos and, unusually, we find that host young tend to survive the nestling period and maintain similar body mass to host young in unparasitized broods. However, host young were less likely to survive to independence than young raised in unparasitized nests, suggesting a post-fledging reproductive cost to hosts.
    Ibis 11/2011; 154(1):195-199. · 2.36 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Many cooperative bird species have an extended period of post-fledging care. Despite the fact that this period of care can last up to several months, it remains a relatively understudied stage of chick development. This period, when young are actively begging but highly mobile, provides an opportunity for young to maximise the amount of care they receive by selectively choosing particular adults to beg from. In pied babblers Turdoides bicolor (a cooperatively breeding passerine), fledglings closely follow foraging adults and beg for food regularly (a behavioural interaction termed social foraging). Using a combination of natural observations and experimental manipulations, we found that fledgling pied babblers preferentially socially forage with adult care-givers who have high foraging success, since this results in young receiving more food. By supplementally feeding adults to artificially increase their foraging success, we increased the proportion of time that fledglings chose to socially forage with them, confirming that fledglings are selectively choosing dyadic interactions with the best adult foragers. These results indicate that pied babbler fledglings are sensitive to and can respond to short-term changes in adult foraging success, enabling them to maximize their nutritional intake, a behavioural adjustment that has long-term benefits in this system.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 10/2012; 67(1):69-78. · 2.75 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In many cooperatively breeding societies, only a few socially dominant individuals in a group breed, reproductive skew is high, and reproductive conflict is common. Surprisingly, the effects of this conflict on dominant reproductive success in vertebrate societies have rarely been investigated, especially in high-skew societies. We examine how subordinate female competition for breeding opportunities affects the reproductive success of dominant females in a monogamous cooperatively breeding bird, the Southern pied babbler (Turdoides bicolor). In this species, successful subordinate reproduction is very rare, despite the fact that groups commonly contain sexually mature female subordinates that could mate with unrelated group males. However, we show that subordinate females compete with dominant females to breed, and do so far more often than expected, based on the infrequency of their success. Attempts by subordinates to obtain a share of breeding impose significant costs on dominant females: chicks fledge from fewer nests, more nests are abandoned before incubation begins, and more eggs are lost. Dominant females appear to attempt to reduce these costs by aggressively suppressing potentially competitive subordinate females. This empirical evidence provides rare insight into the nature of the conflicts between females and the resultant costs to reproductive success in cooperatively breeding societies.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 01/2013; 280(1762):20130728. · 5.68 Impact Factor


Available from
Jun 4, 2014