Flycatchers copy conspecifics in nest-site selection but neither personal experience nor frequency of tutors have an effect
Jaakkonen, Tuomo; Kari, Annemari; Forsman, Jukka T. (2013-03-27)
Jaakkonen T, Kari A, Forsman JT (2013) Flycatchers Copy Conspecifics in Nest-Site Selection but Neither Personal Experience nor Frequency of Tutors Have an Effect. PLoS ONE 8(3): e60395. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060395
Copyright: © 2013 Jaakkonen et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Using the behavior of others in guiding one’s own behavior is a common strategy in animals. The prevailing theory predicts that young age and the inexperience of an individual are expected to increase the probability of adopting the behaviors of others. Also, the most common behavior in the population should be copied. Here, we tested the above predictions by examining social information use in the selection of nest-site features with a field experiment using a wild cavity nesting bird, the collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis). We used an experimental design in which geometric symbols depict nestsite features. By manipulating the apparent symbol choices of early settled individuals and monitoring the choices of later arriving birds, we can study social information use without bias from learned or innate preferences. Flycatchers were found to use social information in the selection of nest-site features, with about 60% of the population preferring the manipulated conspecific choices. However, age and experience as explanatory factors suggested by the social information use theory did not explain the choices. The present result, in concert with earlier similar experiments, implies that flycatchers may in some situations rely more on interspecific information in the selection of nest-site characteristics.
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