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Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix nest provisioning rates are correlated with seasonal caterpillar availability in British Oak Quercus woodlands

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journal contribution
posted on 25.07.2015 by Robin C. Whytock, Daniel Davis, Rory T. Whytock, Malcolm D. Burgess, Jeroen Minderman, John W. Mallord

Capsule Maximum provisioning rates occurred during the seasonal peak in caterpillar availability, controlling for brood age and time of day.

Aims To determine if the seasonal availability of caterpillars influenced Wood Warbler Phylloscopus sibilatrix nest provisioning rates.

Methods Remote cameras were used to monitor nest visits at 14 nests in 8 British oak Quercus woodlands during 2013. The timing of the caterpillar peak was estimated by monitoring the production of caterpillar faecal pellets under oak trees.

Results Maximum provisioning rates occurred when the date of provisioning coincided with the date of peak caterpillar availability, but the percentage change in provisioning rates during asynchrony was dependent on brood age. Younger broods experienced a greater decline in provisioning rates than older broods during asynchrony. Provisioning rates peaked in the morning and declined during the day, but when caterpillar availability was low there was little within-day variation.

Conclusion Provisioning rates show seasonal variation that is correlated with caterpillar availability. Previous studies suggest that Wood Warbler reproductive fitness is independent of synchrony between the breeding cycle and the caterpillar peak, however, the implications for adult fitness are unknown and should be investigated further.