Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Begging and feeding responses vary with relatedness and sex of provisioners in a cooperative breeder

Fortuna, Rita; D'Amelio, Pietro B.; Doutrelant, Claire; Ferreira, C.; Lecq, Clothilde; Silva, Liliana R.; Covas, Rita; Rybak, Fanny; Paquet, Matthieu


Begging behaviour can provide information on offspring hunger levels and be used by parents to adjust food provisioning efforts. In cooperative breeders, helpers also provide care by feeding the young. However, how helpers of different sex and relatedness to the offspring respond to begging behaviour has rarely been studied in cooperatively breeding species, which limits our understanding of the indirect and/or direct benefits that helpers may obtain by responding to offspring demand. Here, we used a cooperatively breeding bird, the sociable weaver, Philetairus socius, to investigate how nest intervisit intervals of breeders and different types of helpers, distinguished by sex and relatedness, varied with acoustic begging. Moreover, we tested whether these different classes of provisioners experienced distinct levels of begging. Our results show that only breeding males, but not breeding females or helpers of any sex and relatedness to the nestlings, returned faster to the nest to feed after experiencing more begging calls. When contrasted directly, we confirmed a statistically supported difference in responses to begging between male and female breeders. Surprisingly, second-order relatives experienced more begging calls than the other classes of more related helpers and breeders. These results show that we might find differences in how provisioners respond to begging levels when classifying group members according to their potential fitness gains. In sociable weavers, the benefits and costs of adjusting feeding efforts to begging seem to differ with sex and life history stage. Experimental and more detailed investigations on begging-feeding interactions are necessary to understand the origin and prevalence of these differences across cooperatively breeding systems. (c) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. This is an open access article under the CC BY license ( by/4.0/).


begging; cooperative breeding; feeding responses; helpers; parent-offspring interactions; sociable weaver

Published in

Animal Behaviour
2022, volume: 185, pages: 49-71

Authors' information

Fortuna, Rita
Universidade do Porto
D'Amelio, Pietro B.
National Research Foundation - South Africa
Doutrelant, Claire
National Research Foundation - South Africa
Ferreira, C.
Universidade do Porto
Lecq, Clothilde
CNRS - National Institute for Biology (INSB)
Silva, Liliana R.
Universidade do Porto
Covas, Rita
Universidade do Porto
Covas, Rita
National Research Foundation - South Africa
Rybak, Fanny
CNRS - National Institute for Biology (INSB)
Paquet, Matthieu
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

UKÄ Subject classification


Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)