oa African Zoology - Territory and nest defence in polyandrous pale chanting goshawks: do co breeders help?

Volume 31, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



The behaviour of polyandrous and monogamous pale chanting goshawks Melierax canarus was investigated to determine if co-breeders, by defending the territory and nest contents, helped to increase the fitness of polyandrous trios. Polyandrous trios consisted of a female and male breeder, as well as a subordinate co-breeding male. Pale chanting goshawk males performed most of the interspecific territorial maintenance duties, as well as participating in aggressive intraspecific interactions against other males on territory borders. Intraspecific territorial interactions were almost exclusively recorded in high-quality habitat, Karroid Broken Veld, and probably functioned in the defence of foraging habitat and potential mates. In this habitat, males of polyandrous families largely occupied exclusive sections of a territory, It is suggested that the cost of defending territories in Karroid Broken Veld was offset by the co-breeder's contribution to high-risk, intraspecific territorial defence, During the nestling period females of polyandrous trios stayed at nesting sites for longer periods than did monogamous females and all males, enabling these females to guard the nest and act as sentinels. Predation of nestlings was recorded at the nests of monogamous pairs, but not at those of polyandrous trios. Co-breeders did not guard the nesting site but contributed directly to nest defence by either coming to the female's aid when solicited, or attacking potential predators when present at the nesting site. Co-breeders may also have helped indirectly, through activities such as provisioning prey to females that relieved them of their hunting duties. We suggest that the female's nest guarding and the resulting lower nest predation may hold reproductive and fitness benefits for polyandrous breeders.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error