Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Birds Take Cues From Their Competitors

Date:
July 10, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
The idea that animals other than humans can learn from one another and pass on local traditions has long been a matter of debate. Now, a new study reveals that some birds learn not only from each other, but also from their competitors.

The idea that animals other than humans can learn from one another and pass on local traditions has long been a matter of debate. Now, a new study reveals that some birds learn not only from each other, but also from their competitors.

Related Articles


Through a novel field experiment, the researchers showed that female members of two migrant flycatcher species can acquire a novel preference for nesting sites on the basis of the apparent attraction of competing resident tits for nest boxes bearing an otherwise meaningless symbol.

"Animals are not merely programmed to behave in a fixed manner, but use information and make decisions," said Janne-Tuomas Seppänen of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. "Most importantly, individual animals live in communities, and they may learn from each other, even from other species."

Seppänen and Jukka Forsman of Uppsala University, Sweden and University of Oulu, Finland, stumbled onto the idea for the experiment when looking for some weathered nest boxes in a dimly lit forest one morning. They realized it would be more convenient if the boxes were marked in some conspicuous way, and began to consider what the consequences of such identifying symbols might be for the birds' behavior.

Earlier research had shown that some flycatcher species pay attention to others of their own species and to tits when choosing breeding patches.

"We knew that pied flycatchers prefer to settle near tits, and to patches with tits rather than without," Forsman said. "These cavity-nesting birds share the same predation risk, along with much of their other breeding ecology, and they have been shown to compete with each other. If patch and microhabitat 'copying' occurs, why not more generalized social learning of nest-site features?"

At two different study sites, the researchers created artificial, neutral nest-site preferences of tits by attaching a geometric symbol on their nest boxes before the flycatchers arrived, making it appear that all tits within each forest patch favored the symbol.

They found strikingly similar responses of the collared and pied flycatchers in both experiments, which were about 950 kilometers apart. Over the course of the season, the flycatchers became increasingly more likely to choose a nest box with the symbol matching that on the tits' nest boxes. On average, more than 75% of the late-arriving birds chose a nest box with the "favored" symbol.

The findings may have evolutionary and ecological implications, according to the researchers.

"Conventional theory of species coexistence predicts that overlap in resource use between species results in costs and divergence of niches," Seppänen said. "However, our results suggest that if information possessed by another species--even by a strong competitor--is valuable enough, interspecific social information use and social learning in particular may lead to increased co-occurrence, proximity, and niche overlap between species."

The researchers include Janne-Tuomas Seppänen of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland and Jukka T. Forsman of Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden. JTS was funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, and JTF by Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (MEIF-CT-2003-500554), and Stiftelsen för Zooekologisk Forskning.

Reference: Seppänen et al.: "Interspecific Social Learning: Novel Preference Can Be Acquired from a Competing Species." Publishing in Current Biology 17, 1--5, July 17, 2007 DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2007.06.034. (The findings appear online on July 5th in Current Biology.)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Birds Take Cues From Their Competitors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070705121853.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, July 10). Birds Take Cues From Their Competitors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070705121853.htm
Cell Press. "Birds Take Cues From Their Competitors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070705121853.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins