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Parent-absent calls are related to nestling reaction time and parental food allocation in the spotless starling

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Absent repeat calls (ARC) are produced by nestlings of some bird species when parents are not at the nest, and play a role in sibling interactions and parental investment. We explored if individual traits influencing begging also determine ARC in the spotless starling ( Sturnus unicolor), and whether this behaviour explains nestling feeding success. We video-taped natural broods and examined the effects of experimental feeding in this behaviour. Experimentally fed chicks stopped calling and received fewer feedings. Among un-fed chicks, absence calls were more frequent in smaller nestlings. We found a positive relationship between nestling reaction time to parental arrival and food acquisition: chicks that reacted first received more feedings that slower chicks. ARC performance was also positively related to reaction time: chicks that produced more calls also reacted first to parents. These results suggest that ARC may have important effects on resource allocation and family interaction networks.

Affiliations: 1: aGroningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 7, 9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands; 2: bDepartamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), Madrid, Spain

10.1163/1568539X-00003285
/content/journals/10.1163/1568539x-00003285
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/content/journals/10.1163/1568539x-00003285
2015-07-08
2018-04-26

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