Mating systems and sex roles in parental care

Woodpeckers are an interesting group in which to study parental care because they have reversed sex roles compared to most other birds. Males do the majority of nest-building, incubation, and brooding of the young while females can be polyandrous. I have quantified contributions of the sexes at different stages of reproduction, and am investigating co-operation and conflict through mate removal and "handicapping" experiments. In collaboration with Dr. B. Kempenaers (Germany), we are analyzing genetic paternity and maternity in flicker broods.

Selected Papers:

Fisher, R.J. and K.L. Wiebe. 2006. Nest defence according to age and sex by parent Northern Flickers. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 118: 452-460.

Wiebe, K.L. 2005. Asymmetric costs favor female desertion in the facultatively polyandrous northern flicker (Colaptes auratus). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 57: 429-437.

Wiebe, K.L. and C.E. Elchuk, C.E., 2003. Correlates of parental care in Northern Flickers: do the sexes contribute equally while provisioning young? Ardea 91: 91-101

Wiebe, K.L. 2002. First reported case of classical polyandry in a North American woodpecker, the Northern Flicker. Wilson Bull. 114: 401-403.