Mobile Menu Open Mobile Menu Close

Coordination and cooperation in avian parental care

James Savage1

1 Southern Institute of Technology, Invercargill, New Zealand (

Care by both parents is common among birds, and in a significant fraction of species offspring also receive care from other members of their social group. This creates an evolutionary tension as carers must contribute to a joint project that delivers shared benefits (successful offspring) based on the personal costs (care effort) expended by each individual. From an individual fitness perspective, how much care each carer should provide depends both on offspring need and the contributions of everyone, but carers cannot trust each other to contribute fairly as each benefits when the other(s) do a greater share of the work. Carers can adaptively adjust their behaviour by responding to others’ behaviour, but carers often have only incomplete information about offspring need, the contributions of others, or future conditions. Until recently carer decisions about responding to others were poorly understood, but advances in modelling and new technologies have provided fresh insights into how individuals coordinate their cooperation over care. This talk will briefly present recent theoretical and empirical findings by the author and from an edited collection, identify outstanding questions around coordination, and suggest avenues for future research.