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Parental Care and Polygyny in the Chiffchaff Phylloscopus Collybita

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The males of most bird species help to raise the young, and females may suffer costs from polygyny because of having to share the male parental care. In the chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) nests of monogamously and polygynously mated females had similar success in relation to the proportion of fledged young. Overall, male chiffchaffs provided little assistance to females during the nestling period, but they increased help when the young left the nest. Females who choose already-paired males (secondary females) incurred lower reproductive success, because they were unable to start a second brood after raising their first brood. Primary and monogamous females which received male help in the form of food provisioning during the fledgling period were more likely to attempt a second brood. This is the first study that reports associated costs to secondary females due to the lack of paternal aid after the young have fledged the nest. However, secondary females still can obtain compensatory benefits, as predicted by the polygyny threshold model, since most of them settled in good quality habitats, close to the primary females.

Affiliations: 1: Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK


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