Allocation of Male Parental Care in Relation to Paternity Within and Among Broods of the Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Authors


Linda A. Whittingham, Department of Biological Sciences, PO Box 413, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA. E-mail: whitting@uwm.edu

Abstract

The relationship between male parental care and paternity has been investigated in a number of avian species, but in many cases the influences of confounding factors, such as variation in male and territory quality, were not addressed. These sources of variation can be controlled for by making within-male comparisons between successive broods or within-brood comparisons between groups of fledglings in a divided brood. We studied the relationship between male parental care and paternity in the common yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) at three levels: between groups of fledglings in divided broods, between first and second broods of the same pair, and among all broods in the population. In this study we proposed three hypotheses: first, males in double-brooded pairs should provide relatively more parental care to broods in which they have higher paternity; secondly, after fledging and brood division, males should provide more care to related offspring; and finally, among all broods in the population, paternity should be related positively to male parental care. Brood division occurred in many of the broods studied; however, broods were not divided according to fledgling size or paternity. Furthermore, within divided broods, males fed within-pair and extra-pair fledglings at similar rates. For sequential broods of the same pair, male feeding rates were not associated with differences in paternity between broods. Among all broods in the population, males did not provide relatively less care to broods containing unrelated young. The lack of a relationship between male parental care and paternity suggests that either males cannot assess their paternity or the costs of reducing male parental care outweigh the benefits.

Ancillary