Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Adult survival probability and body size affect parental risk-taking across latitudes

January 1, 2021

Parents faced with a predator must choose between their own safety versus taking care of their offspring. Each choice can have fitness costs. Life-history theory predicts that longer-lived species should be less willing than shorter-lived species to return to care for their offspring after a predator disturbance because they have more opportunities to reproduce in the future. We increased adult predation risk during incubation for 40 bird species in north temperate, tropical, and south temperate latitudes. We found that species with higher adult survival probabilities were more cautious, waiting longer before returning to the nest to provide care. Contrary to other studies, we also found that parents were more risk averse and waited longer to return in smaller than larger species, likely reflecting greater vulnerability of smaller species. Ultimately, the relative risk a predator poses to a species and the probability of future reproduction predict parental risk taking across the world.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Adult survival probability and body size affect parental risk-taking across latitudes
DOI 10.1111/ele.13615
Authors Juan C. Oteyza, James C. Mouton, Thomas E. Martin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology Letters
Series Number
Index ID 70228782
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle

Related Content