Males of several avian species are more vigilant than their female partners, particularly during the preincubation period. Male vigilance may function as a deterrent of extrapair copulation attempts (EPCs) or to ensure male survival, because males of sexually dimorphic species may be more conspicuous to predators than females. However, vigilant males may act as antipredator sentinels to enhance female survivorship, which may also allow females to feed and rest more efficiently, thereby enhancing their ability to form clutches. We attempted to distinguish between the “male benefits” and “female benefits” hypotheses by studying the behavior of unpaired males and paired Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) during the preincubation period. Paired males were, on average, four times more vigilant than unpaired males and their mates, which suggests that elevated levels of vigilance by paired males does not function primarily for self-protection against predators. Males were not more vigilant during the female’s fertile period, contrary to the “paternity assurance” hypothesis. Male vigilance during feeding bouts was highest when pairs fed alone near shore—a condition in which feeding was likely more “risky.” Male vigilance was positively correlated with female feeding when females fed near shore, but not at other times. During resting bouts, males were vigilant 14 ± 0.01% of the time in all conditions. We suggest that male vigilance may be important to enhance female survival, especially when females feed under risky conditions.
Comportement de Vigilance chez Histrionicus histrionicus durant la Période de Pré- incubation au Labrador: Les Mâles Sont-ils Vigilants pour Eux-mêmes ou pour leur Partenaire Social?