Parental provisioning, nestling departure decisions and prefledging mass recession in Cassin’s auklets

Posted October 16, 1998 | Categories : 13,Research |


YOLANDA E. MORBEY*, RONALD C. YDENBERG*, HUGH A. KNECHTEL* & ANNE HARFENIST† *Simon Fraser University †Canadian Wildlife Service, Delta, British Columbia (Received 2 January 1998; initial acceptance 30 April 1998; final acceptance 13 October 1998; MS. number: A8109) 
ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 1999, 57, 873–881 Article No. anbe.1998.1039, available online at on

We investigated how parental provisioning and nestling departure behaviour interact to produce prefledging mass recession in Cassin’s auklets, Ptychoramphus aleuticus. Under our hypothesis, auklet parents are reluctant provisioners and should be increasingly likely to terminate or reduce provisioning of their single nestling as it matures. For the nestling, remaining in the nest presents a risk of losing mass (if the parent does not provision) but also a possibility of additional provisioning. As the nestling matures and becomes increasingly capable of independence, the benefits of remaining in the nest decrease and nestlings should be increasingly likely to fledge. Nestlings also should be more likely to fledge when the expectation of additional provisioning is low. Data on parental provisioning (based on growth incre- ments) and nestling departure were consistent with our hypothesis. Older and heavier nestlings had smaller growth increments than younger and lighter nestlings, suggesting that parents were reluctant to provision old and heavy nestlings. Older and heavier nestlings also were increasingly likely to fledge. We hypothesized that nestlings might use the intensity of mass loss to gauge parental reluctance to provision, and accordingly, nestlings were increasingly likely to fledge after experiencing a greater amount of mass loss.   See the full PDF at: animbeh57-873