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Title: The breeding ecology of the moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, in an artificially created wetland environment at WWT Llanelli, South Wales
Author: Forman, D.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2002
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An intensive three year study on a wild population of moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre Llanelli, South Wales revealed that monogamy was the dominant breeding system. Significant numbers of individuals, however, bred annually in polyandrous, polygynous and polygynandrous groups. In contrast to communal groups formed by unrelated individuals and siblings, breeding groups formed by parents and offspring rarely persisted longer than one breeding season. Successful laying in multi-female groups only occurred when both females laid synchronously in the communal nest. The reproductive success of individuals in all communal groups over the duration of the study was generally lower than in monogamous pairings. Some females laid parasitically in the nests of neighbouring conspecifics in all years of the study. This intra-specific brood parasitism (IBP) appeared primarily restricted by host availability. Non-territory holding "floater" females laid a significant proportion of the annual number of IBP eggs. Territory holding IPB's laid parasitically before and after they had laid in their own nests with equal frequency. Host responses to IBP were limited by their ability to discriminate between their own eggs and those laid parasitically. As the success of IBP was generally poor, most hosts appeared in to incur little cost by being parasitised. Moorhen broods hatched over several days, creating distinctive size hierarchies based on chick age. To combat parental care monopolization, parents fed small chicks at greater rates per minute than large chicks. Large chicks were also tousled more frequently than smaller counterparts. Parents used tousling to enforced foraging independence on the entire brood. An investigation of parental behaviour using chick sex data derived from a genetic sexing technique revealed that female parental care was sex biased in several ways. In contrast, male parental care was uninfluenced by the chick's sex.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available