Do males and females differ in the feeding of large and small siblings? An experiment with the bluethroat

Per T. Smiseth, T Amundsen, L T T Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Males and females have been reported to differ in their feeding of large and small siblings in several species of birds. According to recent hypotheses, this phenomenon may be related to a sexual conflict over avian hatching patterns. We designed an experiment to test for the existence of such a sex difference by manipulating nestling: size hierarchies of the bluethroat (Luscinia s. svecica) in two directions; half the broods were "asynchronized" to yield large size-differences within broods and the other half were "synchronized" to yield small size-differences. In all broods, nestlings were categorized as being either large or small according to body mass. We recorded male and female food distribution by video early (day 4 after hatching) and late (day 8) in the nestling period. Males and females did not differ in their distribution of food among different-sized nestlings. With large size-differences, both males and females fed large nestlings nearly twice as often as small ones. In contrast, when the size-differences were small, food was more evenly distributed among nestlings. Early in the nestling period, males fed more nestlings during each feeding visit than did females. Our finding that male and female bluethroats do not differ in the feeding of large and small siblings is in contrast to most previous studies. Variation in costs and benefits to males and females from feeding different-sized nestlings, and restrictions to parental choice due to nestling interactions, may explain interspecific variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-328
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1998

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • asynchronous hatching
  • biparental care
  • brood division
  • food allocation
  • Luscinia s. svecica
  • NEED


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