Studies on vertebrate species in which the offspring obtain food only from their parents have shown that offspring begging conveys information on offspring hunger. It is unclear whether begging can also convey information on hunger in partially begging species, in which the offspring, from hatching, obtain food partly through begging for food from the parents and partly through self-feeding. In partially begging species, offspring hunger state could reflect the amount of food obtained by self-feeding in addition to the amount obtained from the parent, and the offspring could respond to hunger by self-feeding instead of begging. To test whether begging reflected the current hunger state of offspring in the partially begging beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides, we subjected larvae to two deprivation treatments: no access to any food for 2h (i.e. food-deprived larvae) and no food provided by the parent (i.e. self-feeding larvae). Larvae of both treatments spent more time begging than did control larvae, which had access to food both from the parents and by self-feeding. Furthermore, the amount of begging differed between the treatments, with food-deprived larvae spending more time begging than the self-feeding ones. We conclude that, in partially begging species, food obtained through both foraging strategies, i.e. begging for food from parents and self-feeding, contribute to the offspring's current hunger state, and that begging can convey information about it. © 2004 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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