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Incubation patterns of a shorebird with rapid multiple clutches, the Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus)

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The rapid multiclutch parental care system of the Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus J.K. Townsend, 1837) presents a rare opportunity to examine sex-specific differences in avian uniparental care. We monitored incubation activity for this species using a combination of video (857 h at 25 nests during 2007) and temperature data-recording (>10 000 h at 124 nests during 2006–2008) at breeding areas in Montana. We modeled possible differences in nocturnal activity using the duration of off-bouts of incubating adults and included the effects of nest age, day of season, ambient temperature, precipitation, and time of departure. Males, on average, made 1.48 departures·h–1 over a 24 h period (SE = 0.35 departures·h–1, n = 6 days) and females made 1.41 departures·h–1 (SE = 0.11 departures·h–1, n = 26 days). The mean duration of nocturnal off-bouts for males was 0.38 h (SE = 0.01 h, n = 1925), while the mean duration of female off-bouts was 0.36 h (SE = 0.01 h, n = 2716). Plovers had longer off-bouts from their nests in the middle of the night and early in the breeding season. This study furthers an understanding of incubation patterns in an uncommon avian parental care system and provides important behavioral information about a species of conservation concern.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 24, 2012

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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