Document Type


Publication Date



Male parental care can significantly affect fledging success and, therefore, is a strong target of both natural and sexual selection. However, for songbird species that exhibit extra-pair paternity, males may reduce parental care based on how much paternity they have lost in a brood. We studied Passerculus sandwichensis (Savannah Sparrow) male parental care relative to the proportion of extra-pair young in the nest, to see if males adjusted care in response to increasing loss of paternity. Males brought less food (mass) with increasing rates of extra-pair paternity, although male provisioning did not influence fledging success. These results contrast with a previously published study of an island population of this species, where males provided more parental care with increased loss of paternity. We hypothesize that high rates of annual survival in this mainland population, where males have a greater potential for reproduction in future years, may explain this difference in behavior.


Available here by permission of the publisher, Eagle Hill Institute. Originally published:

Perlut, N.G., L. Kelly, N.J. Zalik, and A.M. Strong. 2012. Male Savannah sparrows reduce parental care in response to paternity loss. Northeastern Naturalist 19(2):335-344. DOI:

© Eagle Hill Institute. The publisher, Eagle Hill Institute, reserves the copyright to all its publications. Any reproduction, other than for an individual's own personal and private use, or distribution of journal content is prohibited without written permission from Eagle Hill Institute.

Author Lindsay M. Kelly conducted this research as a University of New England student.

Included in

Ornithology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.