The evolutionary stability of honest signalling by offspring is thought to require that begging displays be costly, so the costs and benefits of begging—and whether they are experienced individually or by the whole brood—are crucial to understanding the evolution of begging behaviour. Begging is known to have immediate individual benefits (parents distribute more food to intensely begging individuals) and delayed brood benefits (parents increase provisioning rate to the brood), but the possibility of delayed individual benefits (previous begging affects the current distribution of food) has rarely, if ever, been researched. We did this using playback of great tit Parus major chick begging and a control sound from either side of the nest. Male parents fed chicks close to the speaker more when great tit chick begging, but not other stimuli, was played back. In contrast, there was no effect of playback at the previous visit on the chicks that male parents fed. We have thus demonstrated an immediate individual benefit to begging, but found no evidence of a delayed individual benefit in this species.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiology Letters
Journal publication date2011

ID: 358153