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Publication - Dr Rebecca Pike

    The role of mortality risk in parental behaviour


    Pike, R, McNamara, J & Houston, A, 2018, ‘The role of mortality risk in parental behaviour’. Evolutionary Ecology Research, vol 19., pp. 227-241


    Background: A parent feeding its young during the breeding season faces a trade-off between mortality risk and provisioning young with food for growth.

    Question: How should the parent behave to maximize reproductive success when mortality to both parent and young are considered?

    Mathematical method: Using an optimality model, we establish new formulae to describe parental behaviour when there is a trade-off between growth rate of the young and mortality risk to both parent and young.

    Key assumptions: We consider mortality functions for both parent and young. These comprise the sum of a background mortality risk and a mortality risk attributed to parental behaviour.

    Conclusions: Mortality is an important parameter in the determination of parental behaviour. As the dependence of the mortality of the young on parental effort grows, a parent should invest a greater proportion of time in being vigilant for predators. An increase in other mortality parameters prompts the opposite effect. Mortality should be described by multiple parameters to predict fully how a parent should behave.

    Full details in the University publications repository