Prey abundance and male parental behaviour in Acrocephalus warblers


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30 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the prey abundance at nesting sites of five different Acrocephalus warbler species. Intraspecific variations in prey density were analysed to determine the relative significance of this ecological factor for different mating systems and components of male parental behaviour. The Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus, a facultatively polygynous species, nested in areas with the highest insect abundance. Its intraspecific variation in prey density (between different territories) was the highest while the male: female offspring feeding ratio was the lowest. At the other extreme, the monogamous Moustached Warbler A. melanopogon and Reed Warbler A. scirpaceus nested in areas with the lowest prey abundance and lowest intraspecific variation. Males of these species had the highest involvement in feeding young. In the Moustached Warbler and Marsh Warbler A. palustris, an intraspecific comparison revealed a negative correlation between insect abundance and the male feeding component; a tendency in this direction was found for the Reed Warbler, while no correlation was evident in the polygynous Great Reed Warbler. These data demonstrate a general pattern relating prey abundance, mating systems and male parental investment on an interspecific level. However, intraspecific correlations revealed a net of complex interdependence. One of the factors which may be important is resource predictability. We found a significant correlation between certain vegetation types and insect abundance. The vegetation composition of territories is further influenced by interspecific dominance relationships whereby the dominant Great Reed Warbler occupies territories with the vegetation type which correlates with high prey abundance while the overlapping Moustached Warbler and Reed Warbler are restricted to areas with lower insect density.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-496
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1995
Externally publishedYes


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