Communication furing co-attendance time in common murre (Uria aalge) pairs during chick rearing

Takahashi, Linda Sachiko (2013) Communication furing co-attendance time in common murre (Uria aalge) pairs during chick rearing. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The pair co-attendance (time spent together at the nest) of common murres (Uria aalge) has been viewed as a component of pair bonding and breeding site maintenance. Alternatively, since a high proportion of co-attendance is spent in the process of role switching, behaviours exhibited at the nest may also reflect within-pair conflict. In 2009, I examined variations in patterns relating to role-switching (nest interaction sequences) of 17 pairs breeding on Gull Island in Witless Bay, Newfoundland to understand how these variations may reflect intra-pair conflict. Second, I examined two specific behaviours (allopreening and bill-fencing) to investigate how these are related to nest interaction sequence variations and individual quality, as inferred by body condition and corticosterone levels. I also investigated the use of two different recording devices (camcorder and hand-held computer with behavioural research software) to collect field observations. Normally, the returning bird provisions the chick and exchanges brooding duties with its partner which then departs. Sometimes a returning bird has no fish, or, if it does, the mate continues to brood and the returning bird leaves again. The variations from regular nest interaction sequences are considered to be forms of negotiation, in which individuals of the pair negotiate which partner is required to do the energetically costly activity of foraging and which will do the less costly activity of brooding. -- Murres allopreened their partners at a higher rate when they returned without a fish to feed the chick compared to partners returning with a fish. Brooding partners that exchanged brooding duties less frequently allopreened at lower rates. These changes in allopreening rates were associated with extended nest relief times and longer times were associated with higher corticosterone levels. Breeders with better body condition had lower proportions of regular nest interaction sequences. Pair bill-fencing was more prevalent with young chicks (1 to 10 days post-hatch). Finally, in 2009, there were fewer sequences in which the returning bird came without a fish compared to previous years on nearby Great Island when capelin (Mallotus villosus) abundance was thought to be higher. In addition, comparison of two different recording devices indicated that extracting data from video recordings made with a camcorder was more accurate than data taken from live observations made using a hand-held computer. Results support the theory that co-attendance may not only be for pair bond maintenance and loafing, but may also be for negotiating brooding duties (the less energetically-costly parental behaviour). Intensive behavioural studies may help to better understand how each individual within a pair communicates their condition and negotiate self-interest in conflicts.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11507
Item ID: 11507
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology
Date: 2013
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Common murre--Behavior; Parental behavior in animals; Aviculture; Cooperative breeding in animals.

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