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Female nest dispersion and breeding biology of the polygynous red-collared widowbirds (Euplectes ardens)

Pryke, Sarah R. and Lawes, Michael J. (2004). Female nest dispersion and breeding biology of the polygynous red-collared widowbirds (Euplectes ardens). The Auk,121(4):1226-1237.

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Female nest dispersion and breeding biology of the polygynous red-collared widowbirds (Euplectes ardens)
Author Pryke, Sarah R.
Lawes, Michael J.
Journal Name The Auk
Publication Date 2004
Volume Number 121
Issue Number 4
ISSN 0004-8038   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 1226
End Page 1237
Total Pages 12
Place of Publication United States of America
Publisher American Ornithologists' Union
Field of Research 0603 - Evolutionary Biology
0608 - Zoology
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract We explored characteristics and patterns of nest distribution, and their putative costs and benefits to breeding females, in polygynous Red-collared Widowbirds (Euplectes ardens). Red-collared Widowbirds differ from most other Euplectes species, in that male nestbuilding is reduced to simple nest-rings used in courtship; females alone position and build nests in the territories. Females used only 37% of available territory area for nesting and aggregated at the centers of territories, possibly to take advantage of male vigilance from prominent central perches or to avoid harassment by neighbors. However, irrespective of territory size or number of females on the territory, females maintained relatively even spacing, with nests 15 m apart. Nest predation rates were higher (28.2% day−1) during the nestling period than during incubation (14.6%), but independent of the number of actively nesting females on a territory. During synchronous nestling stages, however, birds nesting close to other birds incurred higher predation costs. Females may, therefore, centrally clump their nests on a territory but maintain enough distance between nests to reduce nest predation. Females choosing unmated males (monogamous) received no greater costs or benefits than females settling with mated males (polygynous). Taken with our earlier finding of strong female preference for longertailed males (Pryke et al. 2001a), our results here suggest that females may gain indirect genetic benefits of higher-quality offspring without incurring the high costs of sharing territories.
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