CIE Spotlight: Parental cooperation in a changing climate: fluctuating environments predict shifts in care division

Mike W.

Authors: Vincze, Orsolya; Kosztolanyi, Andras; Barta, Zoltan; Kuepper, Clemens; Alrashidi, Monif; Amat, Juan A.; Tico, Araceli Arguelles; Burns, Fiona; Cavitt, John; Conway, Warren C.; Cruz-Lopez, Medardo; Eduardo Desucre-Medrano, Atahualpa; dos Remedios, Natalie; Figuerola, Jordi; Galindo-Espinosa, Daniel; Garcia-Pena, Gabriel E.; Gomez Del Angel, Salvador; Gratto-Trevor, Cheri; Jonsson, Paul; Lloyd, Penn; Montalvo, Tomas; Parra, Jorge Enrique; Pruner, Raya; Que, Pinjia; Liu, Yang; Saalfeld, Sarah T.; Schulz, Rainer; Serra, Lorenzo; St Clair, James J. H.; Stenzel, Lynne E.; Weston, Michael A.; Yasue, Mai; Zefania, Sama; Szekely, Tamas

Source: GLOBAL ECOLOGY AND BIOGEOGRAPHY, 26 (3):347-358, MAR 2017

Brief summary of the paper:

Aim: Parental care improves offspring survival and therefore has a major impact on reproductive success. Whilst the influence of ambient environment on parental care is increasingly recognised, the impacts of environmental fluctuations remain largely unexplored. Assessing the impacts of environmental stochasticity, however, is essential for understanding how populations will respond to climate change. Here we investigate the influence of environmental stochasticity on biparental care in a worldwide avian genus.

Location: Global

Methods: We assembled data on biparental care in 36 plover populations (Charadrius spp.), from six continents, collected over several decades between 1981 and 2012. Using a space-for-time approach we investigate how average temperature, temperature stochasticity (i.e. year to year variation) and seasonality during the breeding season influences parental cooperation during care.

Results: We show that both average ambient temperature and its fluctuations influence parental cooperation during incubation. Male care relative to females increases with both mean ambient temperature and stochasticity in temperature. Remarkably, local climatic conditions fully explained within-species, population differences in parental cooperation, but not differences among species.

Main conclusions: Taken together, these results imply that climate change might have a multifaceted influence upon the reproductive behaviour and demography of populations by influencing parental care strategies and breeding systems.