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Exploration Behaviour Is Not Associated with Chick Provisioning in Great Tits
Published: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Author: Samantha C. Patrick et al.

by Samantha C. Patrick, Lucy E. Browning

In biparental systems, members of the same pair can vary substantially in the amount of parental care they provide to offspring. The extent of this asymmetry should depend on the relative costs and benefits of care. Individual variation in personality is likely to influence this trade-off, and hence is a promising candidate to explain differences in care. In addition, plasticity in parental care may also be associated with personality differences. Using exploration behaviour (EB) as a measure of personality, we investigated these possibilities using both natural and experimental data from a wild population of great tits (Parus major). Contrary to predictions, we found no association between EB and natural variation in provisioning behaviour. Nor was EB linked to responsiveness to experimentally increased brood demand. These results are initially surprising given substantial data from other studies suggesting personality should influence investment in parental care. However, they are consistent with a recent study showing selection on EB is weak and highly context-specific in the focal population. This emphasises the difficulty faced by personality studies attempting to make predictions based on previous work, given that personalities often vary among populations of the same species.