Mother's nature: maternal styles in superb fairy-wrens — ASN Events

Mother's nature: maternal styles in superb fairy-wrens (#903)

Ashton L Dickerson 1 , Michelle L Hall 1 , Raoul A Mulder 1
  1. School of Biosciences, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Maternal styles can have significant impacts on reproductive output and the development of young. Whilst maternal styles are well defined in many mammalian species, only recently has it been considered that birds too could show consistent individual differences in maternal behaviours across breeding attempts (maternal ‘personalities’). Lab-based work by Pittet and colleagues in 2014 demonstrated maternal styles in precocial Japanese quail. Our research is the first field-based study on this topic. We are tracking maternal behaviour in altricial superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus) over two years. We are monitoring behaviour through video and audio recording at the nest during early and late incubation, and early and late nestling stages. Additionally we are recording defence efforts from the mother prior to chick fledging. We are also testing whether maternal styles are related to other non-reproductive personality traits, such as aggression. We are presenting the results from the first breeding season. Much investigation in the area is still needed and our research will add to the knowledge of maternal styles and its significance. Moreover a better understanding of mothering behaviours in birds can have important conservation implications for captive breeding programs.