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Family size and competition

De Felici, L. (2015) Family size and competition. Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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Abstract: One of the trade-offs on which life history theory is based is the one between current and future reproduction. Investment in current reproduction can be paid off in the future by reduced survival or fecundity. Recent work has shown that only under high levels of competition in the social environment reproductive costs were paid. First evidence now indicates that reproductive effort may negatively affect parental competitive ability in later life. In this work we further test this hypothesis and the consequences of a lower competitive ability for the ability of parents to secure vital resources later in life.. We worked on a great tit (Parus major)population that underwent brood size manipulation during the year 2014. To induce competition among the great tit parents, before the beginning of the new breeding season we reduced the availability of nest-boxes in the study area. We used the probability of getting a new nest-box as a measure of competitive ability. If family size has a negative effect on competitive ability, we would expect birds that raised reduced broods perform better compared to the ones who raised enlarged broods. The results showed an effect on survival until the first part of winter but no effect on the probability of getting a new nest-box. Our results thus provide no direct evidence for the hypothesis that family size negatively affects parental competitive ability in later life. The selective disappearance we found before midwinter of parents as a consequence of their brood size manipulation however does indicate that differences in parental competitive ability may have already played a role before the onset of our experiment.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:09
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:09

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