Synchronisation of diel timing during chick provisioning within breeding pairs in wild Great Tits

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


For breeding birds, parental care is a particularly challenging period. In socially monogamous species, provisioning of the nestlings is shared between breeding partners. Nest visits are usually synchronised between partners, especially with larger broods, to ensure equal allocation of food and decrease predation risk. However, individuals differ in their diel activity patterns due to their genetic make-up, modulated by environmental conditions such as photoperiod and food availability. Based on their consistent differences, individuals can be categorised into early and late chronotypes that differ in the time of their physical and cognitive peak performance throughout the day. Chronotypes of breeding pairs might align or differ and thus, could affect the parental coordination. In contrast, individuals could adjust their diel timing to synchronise with their partner. This study aims to investigate the differences of chronotypes between parents during chick provisioning, the effects of the breeding partner on the chronotype of their partner and the possible consequences on brood success. We monitored provisioning of 36 breeding pairs of wild Great Tits by recording each parent’s nest visits. From these data we extracted daily activity onset and offset to assign chronotypes and estimate temporal flexibility. Brood monitoring allow us to assess fitness consequences for each parent which we then relate to its chronotype, the partner’s chronotype and on how well the breeding pair can synchronise. This will give new insights into the natural variation of diel timing within and between breeding pairs and the potential consequences for the breeding success.
Period22 Jul 2022
Degree of RecognitionInternational