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Nestling testosterone is associated with begging behaviour and fledging success in the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca

journal contribution
posted on 07.01.2006, 00:00 authored by N Goodship, Kate BuchananKate Buchanan
Animal signals are hypothesized to be costly in order to honestly reflect individual quality. Offspring solicitation signals given by nestling birds are thought to have evolved to advertise either need or individual quality. We tested the potential role of testosterone (T) in controlling the intensity of these signals by measuring begging behaviour as: (i) duration of the begging display and (ii) maximum height of the begging stretch, and by sampling endogenous T levels in nestling blood. We tested nestling pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) using well-established experimental paradigm involving transient food deprivation to encourage begging behaviour and then blood-sampled nestlings at the end of these tests for T levels. Our results show that individual nestlings with the most intense begging displays had the highest circulating levels of T immediately after testing. In addition, we found substantial differences between broods in terms of circulating T. Finally, we found evidence that broods with higher levels of T showed increased fledging success, indicating a benefit for increased T production in nestlings. The potential trade-offs involved in T-mediated begging behaviour are discussed.

History

Journal

Proceedings of the royal society : B supplement

Volume

273

Issue

1582

Pagination

71 - 76

Publisher

The Royal Society Publishing

Location

London, England

ISSN

0962-8452

eISSN

1420-9101

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal