Nosy neighbours: large broods attract more visitors. A field experiment in the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca

Schuett, Wiebke, Järvistö, Pauliina E, Calhim, Sara, Velmala, William and Laaksonen, Toni (2017) Nosy neighbours: large broods attract more visitors. A field experiment in the pied flycatcher, Ficedula hypoleuca. Oecologia, 184 (1). pp. 115-126. ISSN 0029-8549

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Life is uncertain. To reduce uncertainty and make adaptive decisions, individuals need to collect information. Individuals often visit the breeding sites of their conspecifics (i.e., “prospect”), likely to assess conspecifics’ reproductive success and to use such information to identify high-quality spots for future breeding. We investigated whether visitation rate by prospectors and success of visited sites are causally linked. We manipulated the reproductive success (enlarged, reduced, and control broods) in a nest-box population of migratory pied flycatchers, Ficedula hypoleuca, in Finland. We measured the visitation rates of prospectors at 87 nest-boxes continuously from manipulation (day 3 after hatching) to fledging. 302 adult pied flycatchers prospected 9194 times on these manipulated nests (at least 78% of detected prospectors were successful breeders). While the number of visitors and visits was not influenced by the relative change in brood size we induced, the resulting absolute brood size predicted the prospecting behaviour: the larger the brood size after manipulation, the more visitors and visits a nest had. The parental provisioning rate at a nest and brood size pre-manipulation did not predict the number of visitors or visits post-manipulation. More visitors, however, inspected early than late nests and broods in good condition. Our study suggests that individuals collect social information when visiting conspecific nests during breeding and provides evidence that large broods attract more visitors than small broods. We discuss the results in light of individual decision-making by animals in their natural environments.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology > QL0750 Animal behaviour
Depositing User: Wiebke Schuett
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2018 15:23
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 14:35

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