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Nepotistic alarm calling in the Siberian jay, Perisoreus infaustus
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolutionary Biology, Population Biology.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Evolutionary Biology, Population Biology.
2004 (English)In: Animal Behaviour, ISSN 0003-3472, E-ISSN 1095-8282, Vol. 67, no 5, 933-939 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

From a life history perspective, parents have an incentive to protect their reproductive investment, and so may provide care even after their offspring are independent. Such prolonged parental care could lead to postponed dispersal of the offspring and thereby facilitate the formation of kin groups. We tested whether alpha birds in Siberian jays protected their independent, retained offspring by giving alarm calls during simulated predator attacks. We compared the responses to predator attacks simulated by flying a hawk model over a dyad of birds on a feeder for dyads composed of an alpha bird and either a relative or a nonrelative. Alpha females were nepotistic in their alarm-calling behaviour, in that they called more frequently when accompanied by their retained offspring than by unrelated immigrants, but alpha males called indiscriminately. This difference in alarm calling could reflect dominance relationships in Siberian jay groups, because the presence of immigrants may be less costly to alpha males, but alpha females are more vulnerable to competition from immigrants. Alarm calls were usually given during escape, when both individuals in the dyad had left the feeding site. However, results of a playback experiment suggest that alarm calls conveyed information about danger and incited an immediate escape reaction. Our results indicate that alarm calling can be nepotistic, and that factors other than kinship influence alarm-calling behaviour. Nepotistic antipredator behaviours are benefits that offspring can gain only in their natal territory. Hence, in the absence of preferential treatment by their parents, offspring may be more likely to disperse and kin groups are prevented from forming.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 67, no 5, 933-939 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-90283DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2003.09.005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-90283DiVA: diva2:162586
Available from: 2003-04-03 Created: 2003-04-03 Last updated: 2017-12-14Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Nepotistic Parent; Predator Protection, Kinship and Philopatry
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Nepotistic Parent; Predator Protection, Kinship and Philopatry
2003 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Evolution is fuelled by independent reproduction events. Yet, the offspring of at least three percent of all bird species postpone dispersal and forego independent reproduction. The Siberian jay, Perisoreus infaustus, is such a species where some offspring are philopatric and remain in their natal territory for up to three years, forming family groups. The main finding of this thesis is that nepotistic anti-predator behaviour displayed by parents provided philopatric offspring benefits, which could be an incentive to stay and forego independent reproduction. Predation, (hawks - 80 % and owls - 15% of deaths observed) is the main cause of mortality. Parents increased their vigilance nepotistically; they were more vigilant against surprise predator attacks, and gave alarm calls when attacked when feeding together with offspring. However, the two parents differed in their behaviour. Mothers gave calls only when together with their offspring, while males also warned unrelated immigrants. Sitting predators were approached and mobbed more intensely by parents in the presence of philopatric offspring. The vocalisation of Siberian jays provides information about predation risk. Specific calls are given for hawks and owls, and calls also varied with hawk behaviour. The nepotistic anti-predator behaviour of parents is a benefit, which the offspring can gain only “at home”, and such behaviour appears to promote offspring to forego dispersal and independent reproduction. This was confirmed in an experimental manipulation; philopatric offspring dispersed when fathers were removed and replaced by a despotic, immigrant stepfather. From a life-history perspective, parents have an incentive to protect their reproductive investment. Nepotistic anti-predator behaviour create a safe haven in the natal territory for philopatric offspring and provides direct fitness benefits. Without such direct fitness benefits offspring may disperse and wait for a breeding opening elsewhere.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2003. 38 p.
Series
Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1104-232X ; 824
Keyword
Biology, referential alarm calls, delayed dispersal, nepotism, vigilance, alarm calling, mobbing, extended parental care, families, Perisoreus infaustus, Siberian jay, Biologi
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Population Biology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3384 (URN)91-554-5575-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2003-04-29, Ekmanssalen, EBC, Uppsala, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2003-04-03 Created: 2003-04-03Bibliographically approved

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