Problem-solving performance is correlated with reproductive success in a wild bird population

Laure Cauchard*, Neeltje J. Boogert, Louis Lefebvre, Frederique Dubois, Blandine Doligez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Although interindividual variation in problem-solving ability is well documented, its relation to variation in fitness in the wild remains unclear. We investigated the relationship between performance on a problem-solving task and measures of reproductive success in a wild population of great tits, Parus major. We presented breeding pairs during the nestling provisioning period with a novel string-pulling task requiring the parents to remove an obstacle with their leg that temporarily blocked access to their nestbox. We found that nests where at least one parent solved the task had higher nestling survival until fledging than nests where both parents were nonsolvers. Furthermore, clutch size, hatching success and fledgling number were positively correlated with speed in solving the task. Our study suggests that natural selection may directly act on interindividual variation in problem-solving performance. In light of these results, the mechanisms maintaining between-individual variation in problem-solving performance in natural populations need further investigation. Crown Copyright (C) 2012 Published on behalf of The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume85
Issue number1
Early online date26 Oct 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Keywords

  • behavioural plasticity
  • fitness component
  • great tit
  • individual variability
  • innovation
  • Parus major
  • problem solving
  • reproductive success
  • string-pulling task
  • TIT PARUS-MAJOR
  • INDIVIDUAL GREAT TITS
  • EXTRA-PAIR PATERNITY
  • COGNITIVE-ABILITY
  • FORAGING BEHAVIOR
  • BRAIN SIZE
  • BLUE TITS
  • INNOVATION
  • FITNESS
  • MANIPULATIONS

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