Testing the links between cognitive ability and individual variation in parental care behavior.

Grants and Contracts Details


Parenting behavior exhibits a curious pattern in most organisms that have been studied-it shows phenotypic plasticity in response to variable conditions, yet individuals show consistently different levels of care across these conditions. This proposal will address this mix of flexibility and repeatability by treating parental care as a reaction norm and testing for a biological basis of individual variation in provisioning (parenting personality) and plasticity in care, specifically, that individual differences in care are due to differences in cognitive ability in a wild population of house sparrows (Passer domesticus). First, the proposed research seeks to assess the cognitive foraging ability of individual parents. Second, I will assess whether cognitive ability affects the rate of provisioning or the quality of food items brought to the nest (parenting personality). Third, a test of the role of cognitive ability in parental care plasticity will be performed by experimentally increasing nesting demand for food and testing if cognitive ability influences parental response (individual plasticity). This work has significant intellectual merit because it will enhance our understanding of parental care as a life history trait, the role of cognition in parental care, and phenotypic plasticity in natural populations. It will be the first study to assess how cognitive ability is related to parental care at the individual level.
Effective start/end date7/1/117/31/12


  • Animal Behavior Society: $1,500.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.