Brood neglect and contingent faraging behavior in a pelagic seabird

Sue Lewis, K. C. Hamer, L. Money, R. Griffiths, S. Wanless, T. N. Sherratt

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    23 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Among species where there is a risk to leaving offspring unattended, parents usually take alternating shifts guarding their young. However, they may occasionally exhibit brood neglect by leaving their offspring unattended at the nest. To investigate this phenomenon further, we examined the foraging behavior of the northern gannet (Morus bassanus) during chick-rearing. This species has a prolonged nestling period (13 weeks) and the single chick is usually guarded by one or other of its parents, because unattended chicks are frequently attacked by conspecifics. We tested the prediction that the foraging behavior of adults when they left their offspring alone at the nest (unattended trips) would differ in character to when adults left offspring with their partner (attended trips). Brood neglect typically occurred after a longer-than-average attendance period at the nest. Unattended trips were, on average, about half the duration of attended trips, and therefore much closer to the colony. There was also a difference in departure direction between attended and unattended trips, with unattended trips tending to be northeast of the colony. Chicks were fed by parents after both attended and unattended trips, but the frequency and the duration of unattended trips increased as chicks grew older whereas the duration of attended trips decreased as chicks grew. These results indicate that parents may be making a trade-off between risk of attack to their offspring and food-intake rate, and that the solution to this trade-off is dependent on chick age.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)81-88
    Number of pages7
    JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
    Volume56
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

    Keywords

    • dual foraging strategy
    • gannet
    • Morus bassanus
    • nest attendance
    • state-dependent foraging
    • PETREL THALASSOICA-ANTARCTICA
    • BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES
    • GANNETS MORUS-BASSANUS
    • RESOURCE-ALLOCATION
    • HALOBAENA-CAERULEA
    • BODY CONDITION
    • SULA-BASSANA
    • CHICK
    • FOOD
    • INCUBATION

    Cite this

    Lewis, S., Hamer, K. C., Money, L., Griffiths, R., Wanless, S., & Sherratt, T. N. (2004). Brood neglect and contingent faraging behavior in a pelagic seabird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 56, 81-88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-004-0762-0