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Food availability modulates differences in parental effort between dispersing and philopatric birds

Abstract : Dispersal entails costs and might have to be traded off against other life-history traits. Dispersing and philopatric individuals may thus exhibit alternative life-history strategies. Importantly, these differences could also partly be modulated by environmental variation. Our previous results in a patchy population of a small passerine, the collared flycatcher, suggest that, as breeding density, a proxy of habitat quality, decreases, dispersing individuals invest less in reproduction but maintain a stable oxidative balance, whereas philopatric individuals maintain a high reproductive investment at the expense of increased oxidative stress. In this study, we aimed at experimentally testing whether these observed differences between dispersing and philopatric individuals across a habitat quality gradient were due to food availability, a major component of habitat quality in this system. We provided additional food for the parents to use during the nestling rearing period and we measured subsequent parental reproductive effort (through provisioning rate, adult body mass, and plasmatic markers of oxidative balance) and reproductive output. Density-dependent differences between dispersing and philopatric parents in body mass and fledging success were observed in control nests but not in supplemented nests. However, density-dependent differences in oxidative state were not altered by the supplementation. Altogether, our results support our hypothesis that food availability is responsible for some of the density-dependent differences observed in our population between dispersing and philopatric individuals but other mechanisms are also at play. Our study further emphasizes the need to account for environmental variation when studying the association between dispersal and other traits.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 2:52:09 PM
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Charlotte Récapet, Pierre Bize, Blandine Doligez. Food availability modulates differences in parental effort between dispersing and philopatric birds. Behavioral Ecology, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2017, 28 (3), pp.688 - 697. ⟨10.1093/beheco/arx017⟩. ⟨hal-01802597⟩



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