Project proposal details

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Project title
Does ornamentation affect incubation behaviour of Kentish plover males in habitats with high predation pressure?
Contact name
Dr Afonso Rocha and Dr Julia Schroeder (internal supervisor)
Contact email
Project based at
Silwood Park (Imperial)
Imperial contact email
Project description
Sex roles are some of the most diverse social behaviour and parenting exhibit variation between and within species. Biparental care presents a puzzle in understanding how two sexes coordinate and solve a sexual conflict. One of the potential resolutions to conflicts over parental care is the cooperation provided by both parents. Complementarity during parental care may allow parents to better cope with predation pressure and environmental stress. For instance, in plovers (i.e. a group of small ground-nested shorebirds), male plovers with more conspicuous ornamentations tend to incubate at night, whereas drab females share more diurnal incubation (Ekanayake et al. 2015). The environmental temperature may encourage males’ incubation at extreme temperature, shaping a diel incubation pattern.
This project aims to study how Kentish plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus) breeding at saltpans in the south bank of Tagus estuary, Portugal, allocate incubation share throughout a diel time and test the impacts of male ornamentation and environmental temperature.

Argüelles-Ticó A, Küpper C, Kelsh RN, Kosztolányi A, Székely T, van Dijk RE. 2016. Geographic variation in breeding system and environment predicts melanin-based plumage ornamentation of male and female Kentish plovers. Behav Ecol Sociobiol. doi:10.1007/s00265-015-2024-8.
Ekanayake KB, Weston MA, Nimmo DG, Maguire GS, Endler JA, Küpper C. 2015. The bright
incubate at night: Sexual dichromatism and adaptive incubation division in an open-nesting shorebird. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci. 282(1806). doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.3026
Rocha AD, Fonseca D, Masero JA, Ramos JA. 2016. Coastal saltpans are a good alternative breeding habitat for Kentish plover Charadrius alexandrinus when umbrella species are present. J Avian Biol. 484 doi:10.1111/jav.00883.
Additional requirements
Students should first contact Dr Julia Schroeder ( Adventurous and energetic to do the fieldwork in a Portuguese-speaking country
Date uploaded

Project proposal limitations

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Suitable for
Ecology Evolution and Conservation