Nest predation is a common cause of reproductive failure for many bird species, and various anti-predator defense behaviors have evolved to reduce the risk of nest predation. However, trade-offs between current reproductive duties and future reproduction often limit the parent’s ability to respond to nest predation risk. Individual responses to experimentally increased nest predation risk can give insights into these trade-offs. Here, we investigate whether social and ecological factors affect individual responses to predation risk by experimentally manipulating the risk of nest predation using taxidermic mounts in the cooperative breeding Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis). Our results show that dominant females, but not males, alarm called more often when they confront a nest predator model alone than when they do so with a partner, and that individuals that confront a predator together attacked more than those that did so alone. Dominant males increased their anti-predator defense by spending more time nest guarding after a presentation with a nest predator, compared to a non-predator control, but no such effect was found for females, who did not increase the time spent incubating. In contrast to incubation by females, nest guarding responses by dominant males depended on the presence of other group members and food availability. These results suggest that while female investment in incubation is always high and not dependent on social and ecological conditions, males have a lower initial investment, which allows them to respond to sudden changes in nest predation risk.
|Date made available||4 Mar 2019|