Allocare in St. Lawrence estuary belugas: patterns, prospective drivers, and potential benefits

Aubin, Jaclyn (2020) Allocare in St. Lawrence estuary belugas: patterns, prospective drivers, and potential benefits. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Allocare, care provided to offspring by non-parents, challenges our understanding of how animals should allocate their time and energy. The evolution and maintenance of allocare in populations suggests that alloparents receive fitness benefits from allocare. In many species, recipient offspring also receive important benefits from alloparents. My research represents the first in-depth investigation of allocare in wild belugas. By examining patterns of allocare, I seek to understand why beluga allomothers provide care to the offspring of others. My findings suggest that allocare in St. Lawrence Estuary belugas may be driven by kin selection and reciprocation. I also investigate potential benefits of allocare for recipient offspring by examining variables associated with variation in offspring risk, energetic costs, and group sociality. Patterns of allocare were not consistent with protective, energetic, or social benefits to offspring. However, patterns of calf allocare were influenced by herd movement pattern and tidal phase.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 14664
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: Alloparental care, Allomaternal care, Kin selection, Reciprocation, Learning-to-parent, Natal attraction, Beluga, Odontocete
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology
Date: August 2020
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: White whale--Behavior--Saint Lawrence River; White whale--Growth--Saint Lawrence River; Parental behavior in animals.

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