Breeding behaviour and ecology of the sexually size-dimorphic brown songlark, Cinclorhamphus cruralis

Magrath, Michael J. L., Brouwer, Lyanne, van Petersen, Arnoud, Berg, Matthew L. and Komdeur, Jan 2003, Breeding behaviour and ecology of the sexually size-dimorphic brown songlark, Cinclorhamphus cruralis, Australian journal of zoology, vol. 51, no. 5, pp. 429-441.

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Title Breeding behaviour and ecology of the sexually size-dimorphic brown songlark, Cinclorhamphus cruralis
Author(s) Magrath, Michael J. L.
Brouwer, Lyanne
van Petersen, Arnoud
Berg, Matthew L.
Komdeur, Jan
Journal name Australian journal of zoology
Volume number 51
Issue number 5
Start page 429
End page 441
Total pages 13
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Place of publication Collingwood, Vic.
Publication date 2003
ISSN 0004-959X
1446-5698
Summary The Australian endemic brown songlark, Cinclorhamphus cruralis, is one of the most sexually size-dimorphic of all birds, and yet its breeding ecology remains poorly documented. Here we redress this situation by describing the breeding activities of brown songlarks over three years (1998–2000) in the semi-arid grasslands of south-western New South Wales. Study populations of this nomadic species were selected in late August of each year on the basis of high adult abundance. Adult males at these sites were, on average, 2.3 times heavier than females. Over the three seasons, nesting activities started in early to late August and continued until early November or December. Males were highly polygynous and, on average, occupied territories of about 4.0 ha. Nests were well concealed at the base of small shrubs and grass tussocks or in thick herbage. Clutches ranged in size from 2 to 5 eggs (mean 3.2) and were incubated exclusively by the female for 11–13 days (mean 12.1). Nestlings received a range of invertebrate prey, mainly from the female, for 10–14 days (mean 11.5) before leaving the nest. Only 17% of nesting attempts were estimated to be successful, and each of these nests produced an average of 2.7 fledglings. Predators, including foxes, Vulpes vulpes, and brown snakes, Pseudonaja textilis, were the main cause of nest failure. Some females produced replacement clutches following nest failure, while others laid second clutches after the success of an earlier brood. We speculate that extreme size dimorphism has evolved in this species because (i) males compete physically for breeding territories, and (ii) habitat heterogeneity and excellent visibility of their surroundings allow some males to defend territories of sufficient size to support nesting by multiple females
Language eng
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2003, CSIRO Publishing
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30025958

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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