Parental care in an ecological perspective: A quantitative analysis of avian subfamilies

Rae Silver, Howard Andrews, Gregory F. Ball

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


The contribution of the male to the care of the young varies greatly within the class Aves. In this paper we use canonical correlation analysis to provide a quantitative framework for assessing the ecological and life history correlates of male involvement in five parental activities. The avian subfamily was used as the unit of analysis. Data were obtained from the existing literature. Four significant dimensions of relationship between the behavioral outcome variables and the ecological/life history predictors emerged from the analysis. Together, these dimensions accounted for 38% of the variability in the five paternal behaviors. The analysis indicated that the most powerful predictors of paternal behavior include mode of development, mating system, certain habitat characteristics, and clutch weight as a percentage of female body weight. The approach described here makes it possible to conduct formal quantitative tests of specific hypotheses widely discussed in the literature and to explore the existing data for important relationships that may have been overlooked in earlier work. The model also generates predictions about the behavior, ecology and life history of taxonomic groups about which little is currently known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-840
Number of pages18
JournalIntegrative and Comparative Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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