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Paternal behaviour in a socially monogamous but sexually promiscuous passerine bird

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We documented parental behaviour and paternity of eastern kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus) to test the predictions that paternal care would decline with increasing loss of paternity, increasing nesting density (a proxy for probability of paternity loss), male quality, and number of fertile females available in the population. Extra-pair young were found in 58% of 45 nests for which behaviour was recorded and a higher proportion of young were extra-pair as nesting density increased. Male feeding rate declined with increasing nesting density and male quality, but neither feeding rate nor a composite measure of paternal behaviour varied with number of fertile females or paternity. Although alternative explanations exist, one interpretation of the reduced paternal care at high nesting density was that it was a response to perceived threats of paternity loss. The ultimate basis for the lower paternal effort of higher quality males is unclear but we discuss several possible explanations.

Affiliations: 1: aDepartment of Biology, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201, USA

10.1163/1568539X-00003359
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2017-10-17

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