Mark C. Mainwaring

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Maternal and environmental effects can profoundly influence offspring phenotypes, independent of genetic effects. Within avian broods, both the asymmetric post-hatching environment created by hatching asynchrony and the differential maternal investment through the laying sequence have important consequences for individual nestlings in terms of the(More)
Despite an expanding interest in animal personalities, the influence of social interactions and sex differences on individual differences in behaviour remains poorly understood. Using the social zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), we tested for behavioural differences in exploration of a novel environment and objects, between individuals of both sexes in(More)
1. Synchronous fluctuations of geographically separated populations are in general explained by the Moran effect, i.e. a common influence on the local population dynamics of environmental variables that are correlated in space. Empirical support for such a Moran effect has been difficult to provide, mainly due to problems separating out effects of local(More)
Nests are structures built to support and protect eggs and/or offspring from predators, parasites, and adverse weather conditions. Nests are mainly constructed prior to egg laying, meaning that parent birds must make decisions about nest site choice and nest building behavior before the start of egg-laying. Parent birds should be selected to choose nest(More)
All birds construct nests in which to lay eggs and/or raise offspring. Traditionally, it was thought that natural selection and the requirement to minimize the risk of predation determined the design of completed nests. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that sexual selection also influences nest design. This is an important development as while(More)
Very little is known about the normal gastrointestinal flora of wild birds, or how it might affect or reflect the host's life-history traits. The aim of this study was to survey the species richness of bacteria in the feces of a wild population of blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus and to explore the relationships between bacterial species richness and various(More)
Nest construction is taxonomically widespread, yet our understanding of adaptive intraspecific variation in nest design remains poor. Nest characteristics are expected to vary adaptively in response to predictable variation in spring temperatures over large spatial scales, yet such variation in nest design remains largely overlooked, particularly amongst(More)
Parental investment in reproduction is generally limited by food availability, and so avian life-history research has traditionally focused on the brood rearing phase, when food requirements are greatest. Only relatively recently has the focus extended to the incubation phase, and even more recently to the nest-building phase, where observational and(More)
Natural selection favours those individuals with effective anti-predator defences. The presence of sentinels is known to be an effective form of defence amongst stable groups of individuals within cooperative and polygynous breeding systems. However, the presence of sentinels in the more prevalent socially monogamous breeding systems remains overlooked as(More)
Avian parents initially provide their offspring with resources such as food and protection from predators but the offspring then undergo a period of transition from dependency to independence. That transition represents a crucial period of an individual’s life as their inexperience in simultaneously searching for food and avoiding predators’ means that the(More)