We investigated the effect of group size on incubation effort in Taiwan Yuhinas (Yuhina brunneiceps) at the Highlands Experimental Farm of National Taiwan University at Meifeng, Nantou County, central Taiwan, during 2000 and 2001. The Taiwan Yuhina is a joint-nesting, cooperatively breeding species endemic to Taiwan. We compared differences in parental investment among individuals of different sexes and status, explored the effect of group size on group incubation effort, and investigated whether individuals show compensatory reductions in care with respect to the number of females laying. Constancy of incubation increased as group size increased. Alpha females exhibited a significantly greater incubation effort than other individuals, but effort was similar among other group members. Both alpha males and females decreased their relative and absolute incubation effort as group size increased (i.e., there was a compensatory reduction in parental effort). However, beta pairs maintained a consistent but low incubation effort when either gamma pairs or an extra individual joined the group. Our study also demonstrated a new potential group-size benefit for cooperatively breeding birds—an increase in the constancy of incubation.
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Vol. 117 • No. 3