Allery Treatment News

Social Information Trumps Vegetation Structure In Breeding Site Selection

April 02, 2017

Habitat selection behavior has consequences for speciation, regulation of animal populations, and conservation. It has long been assumed that animals use only habitat structure (e.g., availability and size of plants) as cues in their habitat choices.

We tested an alternative possibility - that birds use 'social information' gleaned from successful members of their own species in determining where to settle. We show that dependence on social information is so strong that typical habitat associations of a species can be overwhelmed with the experimental provision of social cues.

For the migrant songbird we studied, social information was simply the song of experienced breeders during the post - breeding season. We found that individuals were more likely to sing in late summer if they had bred successfully.

Inexperienced birds eavesdropped on this post - breeding singing and used it as a powerful cue to identify the spot where they would try to breed the following spring. We expect that this efficient mode of habitat selection will enable birds to cope more effectively with rapidly changing environmental conditions.

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Proceedings B is the Royal Society's flagship biological research journal, dedicated to the rapid publication and broad dissemination of high - quality research papers, reviews and comment and reply papers. The scope of journal is diverse and is especially strong in organismal biology.