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Begging affects parental effort in the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca

  • Ulf Ottosson
  • Johan Bäckman
  • Henrik G. Smith
Publishing year: 1997
Language: English
Pages: 381-384
Publication/Series: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Volume: 41
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

It has been suggested that nestlings use begging to increase their share of parental resources at the expense of current or future siblings. There is ample evidence that siblings compete over food with nestmates by begging, but only short-term effects of begging on parental provisioning rates have been shown. In this study, we use a new experimental design to demonstrate that pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) nestlings that beg more are able to increase parental provisioning rates over the major part of the nestling period, thus potentially competing with future siblings. Parents were marked with microchips so that additional begging sounds could be played back when one of the parents visited the nest. By playing back begging sounds consistently at either male or female visits, a sex difference in provisioning rate that lasted for the major part of the nestling period was induced. If each parent independently adjusts its effort to the begging intensity of nestlings, begging may also be the proximate control mechanism for the sexual division of labour.


  • Ecology
  • Parental provisioning
  • Parent-offspring conflict


  • ISSN: 1432-0762
Henrik Smith
E-mail: henrik [dot] smith [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se



+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56




Centre for Environmental and Climate Research (CEC)

+46 46 222 93 79

+46 70 978 20 56


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden