Capsule: Hot environments are associated with more biparental care, high nest-site fidelity and low mate fidelity.
Aims: To investigate the breeding ecology and parental behaviour of Kentish Plovers in an extremely hot environment. Kentish Plovers have an unusually diverse breeding system in which the frequencies of biparental, female-only and male-only care vary between populations. A common, but rarely tested, explanation for such a variation is local adaptation: birds exhibit social traits that are adaptive to their breeding environment. In particular, we investigated the effect of a hot environment on breeding success, distribution of care types, and mate and site fidelity.
Methods: A breeding population of approximately 200 pairs of Kentish Plovers was investigated in 2005 and 2006 at Al Wathba Wetland near Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Results: We found high nest-site fidelity, low mate fidelity and more biparental care in Al Wathba than in most temperate zone populations of Kentish Plovers.
Conclusions: Our results are consistent with the argument that a harsh environment can select for biparental care. However, further studies are warranted to distinguish between alternative hypotheses for the different distribution of social behaviours of breeding populations.