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Simultaneous GPS-tracking of parents reveals a similar parental investment within pairs, but no immediate co-adjustment on a trip-to-trip basis
Kavelaars, M.M.; Baert, J.M.; Van Malderen, J.; Stienen, E.W.M.; Shamoun-Baranes, J.; Lens, L.; Müller, W. (2021). Simultaneous GPS-tracking of parents reveals a similar parental investment within pairs, but no immediate co-adjustment on a trip-to-trip basis. Movement Ecology 9(1): 42. https://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40462-021-00279-1
In: Movement Ecology. BioMed Central: London. ISSN 2051-3933, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Parental investment, Sexual conflict, Parental coordination, Biologging, Seabirds, Lesser black-backed gulls

Authors  Top 
  • Kavelaars, M.M., more
  • Baert, J.M., more
  • Van Malderen, J., more
  • Stienen, E.W.M., more
  • Shamoun-Baranes, J.
  • Lens, L., more
  • Müller, W., more

Abstract

    Background

    Parental care benefits the offspring, but comes at a cost for each parent, which in biparental species gives rise to a conflict between partners regarding the within-pair distribution of care. Pair members could avoid exploitation by efficiently keeping track of each other’s efforts and coordinating their efforts. Parents may, therefore, space their presence at the nest, which could also allow for permanent protection of the offspring. Additionally, they may respond to their partner’s previous investment by co-adjusting their efforts on a trip-to-trip basis, resulting in overall similar parental activities within pairs.

    Methods

    We investigated the coordination of parental care measured as nest attendance and foraging effort in the Lesser black-backed gull (Larus fuscus), a species with long nest bouts that performs extended foraging trips out of sight of their partner. This was achieved by GPS-tracking both pair members simultaneously during the entire chick rearing period.

    Results

    We found that the timing of foraging trips (and hence nest attendance) was coordinated within gull pairs, as individuals left the colony only after their partner had returned. Parents did not match their partner’s investment by actively co-adjusting their foraging efforts on a trip-by-trip basis. Yet, pair members were similar in their temporal and energetic investments during chick rearing.

    Conclusion

    Balanced investment levels over a longer time frame suggest that a coordination of effort may not require permanent co-adjustment of the levels of care on a trip-to-trip basis, but may instead rather take place at an earlier stage in the reproductive attempt, or over integrated longer time intervals. Identifying the drivers and underlying processes of coordination will be one of the next necessary steps to fully understand parental cooperation in long-lived species.


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