• Lendvai, Ádám Z.
  • Akcay, C
  • Stanback, M
  • Haussmann, Mark F.
  • Moore, Ignacio T.
  • Bonier, Frances


Biparental care presents an interesting case of cooperation and conflict between unrelated individuals. Several models have been proposed to explain how parents should respond to changes in each other’s parental care to maximize their own fitness, predicting no change, partial compensation, or matching effort as a response. Here, we present an experiment in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) in which we increased the offspring provisioning of females by presenting them, but not their mates, with additional nestling begging calls using automated playbacks. We performed this experiment in two populations differing in future breeding opportunities. We found that in response to a temporary increase in female parental effort, males in the northern population (with lower future breeding opportunities and thus higher brood value) matched the increased effort, whereas males in the southern population did not. We also found that increases in parental care during playbacks were driven by the females (i.e., females initiated the increased effort and their mates followed them) in the northern population but not the southern population. These results support the idea that with incomplete information about the brood value and need, cues or signals from the partner might become important in coordinating parental care.