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Brood size can influence maternal behaviour and chick’s development in precocial birds

Abstract : Mothers have a crucial influence on offspring development. Variations of maternal behaviour can be due to numerous parameters, for instance costs are related to the size of a brood/litter, which in turn can influence the level of mothers’ investment in each offspring. Here we investigated the influence of brood size on the behaviour of Japanese quail mothers and chicks during the mothering period and on offspring development. We compared two types of broods: small broods of three chicks (N = 9) and large broods of six chicks (N = 9). Behavioural tests assessed chicks’ social and emotional traits. Mothers of large broods emitted more maternal vocalisations at the beginning of the mothering period, but at the end they assumed more non-covering postures and trampled chicks more than mothers of small broods. Chicks in large broods huddled up more whereas chicks in small broods rested alone more frequently. Moreover, the social motivation of chicks in large broods was higher than that of chicks in small broods, although their emotional reactivity levels were similar. Our results evidence the importance of brood size for maintaining family cohesion and the influence of brood size on chicks’ interactions with their siblings. We evaluated the influence of mothers and siblings on chicks’ behavioural development.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 2:53:20 PM
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Nadège Aigueperse, Florent Pittet, Emmanuel de Margerie, Céline Nicolle, Cécilia Houdelier, et al.. Brood size can influence maternal behaviour and chick’s development in precocial birds. Behavioural Processes, Elsevier, 2017, 138, pp.96-104. ⟨10.1016/j.beproc.2017.02.018⟩. ⟨hal-01490372⟩

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