Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris

Clare Andrews, Jérémie Viviani, Emily Egan, Thomas Bedford, Ben Brilot, Daniel Nettle, Melissa Bateson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article

Abstract

Animals can insure themselves against the risk of starvation associated with unpredictable food availability by storing energy reserves or gathering information about alternative food sources. The former strategy carries costs in terms of mass-dependent predation risk, while the latter trades off against foraging for food; both trade-offs may be influenced by an individual's developmental history. Here, we consider a possible role of early developmental experience in inducing different mass regulation and foraging strategies in European starlings. We measured the body mass, body condition, foraging effort, food consumption and contrafreeloading (foraging for food hidden in sand when equivalent food is freely available) of adult birds (≥10 months old) that had previously undergone a subtle early life manipulation of food competition (cross-fostering into the highest or lowest ranks in the brood size hierarchy when 2-12 days of age). We found that developmentally disadvantaged birds were fatter in adulthood and differed in foraging behaviour compared with their advantaged siblings. Disadvantaged birds were hyperphagic compared with advantaged birds, but only following a period of food deprivation, and also spent more time contrafreeloading. Advantaged birds experienced a trade-off between foraging success and time spent contrafreeloading, whereas disadvantaged birds faced no such trade-off, owing to their greater foraging efficiency. Thus, developmentally disadvantaged birds appeared to retain a phenotypic memory of increased nestling food competition, employing both energy storage and information-gathering insurance strategies to a greater extent than their advantaged siblings. Our results suggest that subtle early life disadvantage in the form of psychosocial stress and/or food insecurity can leave a lasting legacy on foraging behaviour and mass regulation even in the absence of food insufficiency during development or adulthood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume109
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Sturnus vulgaris
foraging
food
bird
birds
trade-off
adulthood
foraging behavior
food deprivation
foraging efficiency
insurance
energy
brood size
food security
food consumption
body condition
predation risk
nestling
food availability
starvation

Keywords

  • Body mass regulation
  • Contrafreeloading
  • Developmental stress
  • Early life adversity
  • European starling
  • Food insecurity
  • Foraging
  • Sturnus vulgaris

Cite this

Andrews, Clare ; Viviani, Jérémie ; Egan, Emily ; Bedford, Thomas ; Brilot, Ben ; Nettle, Daniel ; Bateson, Melissa. / Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. In: Animal Behaviour. 2015 ; Vol. 109. pp. 123-132.
@article{9217a487b0cb4b8d823eedf68af787f3,
title = "Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris",
abstract = "Animals can insure themselves against the risk of starvation associated with unpredictable food availability by storing energy reserves or gathering information about alternative food sources. The former strategy carries costs in terms of mass-dependent predation risk, while the latter trades off against foraging for food; both trade-offs may be influenced by an individual's developmental history. Here, we consider a possible role of early developmental experience in inducing different mass regulation and foraging strategies in European starlings. We measured the body mass, body condition, foraging effort, food consumption and contrafreeloading (foraging for food hidden in sand when equivalent food is freely available) of adult birds (≥10 months old) that had previously undergone a subtle early life manipulation of food competition (cross-fostering into the highest or lowest ranks in the brood size hierarchy when 2-12 days of age). We found that developmentally disadvantaged birds were fatter in adulthood and differed in foraging behaviour compared with their advantaged siblings. Disadvantaged birds were hyperphagic compared with advantaged birds, but only following a period of food deprivation, and also spent more time contrafreeloading. Advantaged birds experienced a trade-off between foraging success and time spent contrafreeloading, whereas disadvantaged birds faced no such trade-off, owing to their greater foraging efficiency. Thus, developmentally disadvantaged birds appeared to retain a phenotypic memory of increased nestling food competition, employing both energy storage and information-gathering insurance strategies to a greater extent than their advantaged siblings. Our results suggest that subtle early life disadvantage in the form of psychosocial stress and/or food insecurity can leave a lasting legacy on foraging behaviour and mass regulation even in the absence of food insufficiency during development or adulthood.",
keywords = "Body mass regulation, Contrafreeloading, Developmental stress, Early life adversity, European starling, Food insecurity, Foraging, Sturnus vulgaris",
author = "Clare Andrews and J{\'e}r{\'e}mie Viviani and Emily Egan and Thomas Bedford and Ben Brilot and Daniel Nettle and Melissa Bateson",
year = "2015",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.anbehav.2015.08.009",
language = "English",
volume = "109",
pages = "123--132",
journal = "Animal Behaviour",
issn = "0003-3472",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",

}

Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. / Andrews, Clare; Viviani, Jérémie; Egan, Emily; Bedford, Thomas; Brilot, Ben; Nettle, Daniel; Bateson, Melissa.

In: Animal Behaviour, Vol. 109, 01.05.2015, p. 123-132.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article

TY - JOUR

T1 - Early life adversity increases foraging and information gathering in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris

AU - Andrews, Clare

AU - Viviani, Jérémie

AU - Egan, Emily

AU - Bedford, Thomas

AU - Brilot, Ben

AU - Nettle, Daniel

AU - Bateson, Melissa

PY - 2015/5/1

Y1 - 2015/5/1

N2 - Animals can insure themselves against the risk of starvation associated with unpredictable food availability by storing energy reserves or gathering information about alternative food sources. The former strategy carries costs in terms of mass-dependent predation risk, while the latter trades off against foraging for food; both trade-offs may be influenced by an individual's developmental history. Here, we consider a possible role of early developmental experience in inducing different mass regulation and foraging strategies in European starlings. We measured the body mass, body condition, foraging effort, food consumption and contrafreeloading (foraging for food hidden in sand when equivalent food is freely available) of adult birds (≥10 months old) that had previously undergone a subtle early life manipulation of food competition (cross-fostering into the highest or lowest ranks in the brood size hierarchy when 2-12 days of age). We found that developmentally disadvantaged birds were fatter in adulthood and differed in foraging behaviour compared with their advantaged siblings. Disadvantaged birds were hyperphagic compared with advantaged birds, but only following a period of food deprivation, and also spent more time contrafreeloading. Advantaged birds experienced a trade-off between foraging success and time spent contrafreeloading, whereas disadvantaged birds faced no such trade-off, owing to their greater foraging efficiency. Thus, developmentally disadvantaged birds appeared to retain a phenotypic memory of increased nestling food competition, employing both energy storage and information-gathering insurance strategies to a greater extent than their advantaged siblings. Our results suggest that subtle early life disadvantage in the form of psychosocial stress and/or food insecurity can leave a lasting legacy on foraging behaviour and mass regulation even in the absence of food insufficiency during development or adulthood.

AB - Animals can insure themselves against the risk of starvation associated with unpredictable food availability by storing energy reserves or gathering information about alternative food sources. The former strategy carries costs in terms of mass-dependent predation risk, while the latter trades off against foraging for food; both trade-offs may be influenced by an individual's developmental history. Here, we consider a possible role of early developmental experience in inducing different mass regulation and foraging strategies in European starlings. We measured the body mass, body condition, foraging effort, food consumption and contrafreeloading (foraging for food hidden in sand when equivalent food is freely available) of adult birds (≥10 months old) that had previously undergone a subtle early life manipulation of food competition (cross-fostering into the highest or lowest ranks in the brood size hierarchy when 2-12 days of age). We found that developmentally disadvantaged birds were fatter in adulthood and differed in foraging behaviour compared with their advantaged siblings. Disadvantaged birds were hyperphagic compared with advantaged birds, but only following a period of food deprivation, and also spent more time contrafreeloading. Advantaged birds experienced a trade-off between foraging success and time spent contrafreeloading, whereas disadvantaged birds faced no such trade-off, owing to their greater foraging efficiency. Thus, developmentally disadvantaged birds appeared to retain a phenotypic memory of increased nestling food competition, employing both energy storage and information-gathering insurance strategies to a greater extent than their advantaged siblings. Our results suggest that subtle early life disadvantage in the form of psychosocial stress and/or food insecurity can leave a lasting legacy on foraging behaviour and mass regulation even in the absence of food insufficiency during development or adulthood.

KW - Body mass regulation

KW - Contrafreeloading

KW - Developmental stress

KW - Early life adversity

KW - European starling

KW - Food insecurity

KW - Foraging

KW - Sturnus vulgaris

U2 - 10.1016/j.anbehav.2015.08.009

DO - 10.1016/j.anbehav.2015.08.009

M3 - Journal Article

VL - 109

SP - 123

EP - 132

JO - Animal Behaviour

JF - Animal Behaviour

SN - 0003-3472

ER -