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Is there a cost of reproduction for Marsh Tits Parus palustris in a primeval forest?

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We looked for evidence of a cost of reproduction in the Marsh Tit Parus palustris living in the last fragments of primeval temperate forest (Białowieża National Park, eastern Poland). Potential nest-holes were superabundant but the birds had to cope with a diverse set of predators, dangerous both to broods and to parents. Taking advantage of the natural variation in realized reproductive investment that this caused in terms of the loss of nests or mates, we expected to find differences in survival and future fecundity between birds which had lost broods (reduced effort), had reared young (controls) or were either provisioning young single-handed or had laid replacement clutches (increased effort). Despite 13¬†years of observation, even during seasons with very strenuous conditions, we have failed to demonstrate that the observed range of variation in parental investment caused any demographic cost of reproduction. Incubating females were regularly killed on the nest, which could indicate the existence of a cost operating in the earlier stages of the breeding cycle. Overall, these results suggest that the reproductive rate in Marsh Tits is not controlled proximately by reproductive cost.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Forest Protection and Ecology, SGGW, Nowoursynowska 159, 02 776 Warszawa, Poland

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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