Publication

Begging blue tit nestlings discriminate between the odour of familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics

Rossi, M., Marfull, R., Golueke, S., Komdeur, J., Korsten, P. & Caspers, B. A., Sep-2017, In : Functional Ecology. 31, 9, p. 1761-1769 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Copy link to clipboard

Documents

  • Begging blue tit nestlings discriminate between the odour of familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics

    Final publisher's version, 379 KB, PDF document

    Request copy

DOI

1. Offspring often solicit, and compete for, limited parental care by elaborate begging behaviour. Kin selection theory predicts that competing offspring should modify the intensity of their begging depending on the degree of relatedness to their nest-or litter-mates.

2. Empirical evidence in birds, which are a key model in the study of parent-offspring interactions, indeed indicates that a lower level of relatedness between offspring in the nest correlates with more intense begging (i.e. more 'selfish' behaviour). This implies that competing nestlings can recognize kin, but the mechanism underlying such discrimination is unclear. Birds have long been thought to mainly rely on visual and auditory cues in their social communication, but there is now growing evidence for the importance of olfactory cues too.

3. To assess the potential importance of olfactory cues in modulating nestling begging behaviour, we experimentally tested in a free-living bird, the blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus, if nestlings discriminate and adjust their begging behaviour depending on their familiarity with a conspecific nestling odour stimulus.

4. We found that individuals responded with longer and more intense begging bouts to an unfamiliar compared with a familiar odour stimulus.

5. Our findings provide first evidence for a role of olfaction in modulating offspring begging behaviour in a wild bird population. Although our experiment cannot differentiate between the effects of familiarity and relatedness, it raises the interesting possibility that blue tit nestlings may also discriminate between odours of close kin and less related individuals, and adjust their begging behaviour accordingly. This hypothesis requires further testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1761-1769
Number of pages9
JournalFunctional Ecology
Volume31
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2017

    Keywords

  • avian olfaction, chemical signalling, Cyanistes caeruleus, kin recognition, sibling competition, PARENT-OFFSPRING COADAPTATION, KIN RECOGNITION, BARN SWALLOW, NEST RECOGNITION, PASSERINE BIRD, ZEBRA FINCHES, WILD BIRD, SEX, SONGBIRD, CONFLICT
Related Datasets
  1. Data from: Begging blue tit nestlings discriminate between the odour of familiar and unfamiliar conspecifics

    Rossi, M. (Creator), Marfull Castro, R. (Creator), Golueke, S. (Creator), Komdeur, J. (Creator), Korsten, P. (Creator), Caspers, B. A. (Creator), University of Groningen, 25-Apr-2017

    Dataset

View all (1) »

View graph of relations

ID: 56059517