Article: article from journal or magazin.
A UV signal of offspring condition mediates context-dependent parental favouritism.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B Biological Sciences
As fitness returns during a breeding attempt are context-dependent, parents are predicted to bias their food allocation within a brood from poor towards good condition nestlings when environmental conditions deteriorate. We tested this prediction in the Alpine swift and the European starling, two migratory bird species, by modifying an ultraviolet (UV) visual signal of condition in nestlings and exploring how parents allocate food to their young as the season progresses. We show in both species that: (i) UV light reflected by the body skin of offspring positively correlates with their stature (i.e. body mass and skeletal size) and (ii) parental favouritism towards young with more UV reflective skin gradually increases as the season progresses. Early-breeding parents supplied food preferentially to UV pale (i.e. small stature) nestlings, whereas late-breeding parents favoured UV bright offspring (i.e. large stature). These results emphasize that parents use UV signals of offspring condition to adjust their feeding strategies depending on the ecological context.
Animals, Birds/physiology, Cues, Nesting Behavior, Passeriformes/physiology, Seasons, Ultraviolet Rays
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