Life history theory predicts that increased investment in current offspring decreases future fecundity or survival. Avian parental investment decisions have been studied either via brood size manipulation or direct manipulation of parental energetic costs (also known as handicapping). However, we have limited experimental data on the potential interactive effects of these manipulations on parent behavior. Additionally, we know little about how these manipulations affect spatial foraging behavior away from the nest. We simultaneously manipulated brood size and parental costs (via added weight in the form of a GPS tag) in wild female barn swallows (
Avian parental investment decisions have been studied by either brood size manipulation or direct manipulation of parental costs, but rarely both simultaneously. We simultaneously manipulated brood size and parental costs (via addition of a GPS tag) in a wild avian system, allowing us to examine interactive effects of these manipulations. Additionally, studies of parental investment often examine behaviors at the nest, but measurements of parental care behavior away from the nest are rare. Our study is unique in that we measured multiple aspects of parental care, including spatial foraging behavior tracked with GPS tags. We found no interactive effects of manipulated brood size and parental costs on visitation rate or nestling growth, and spatial foraging behavior of females was individually variable. Documenting foraging tactics alongside visitation rate is critical to understanding parental investment because the same visitation rate might be more costly for far-ranging females.