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Animal Behaviour
Journal Prestige (SJR): 1.58
Citation Impact (citeScore): 3
Number of Followers: 189  
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0003-3472 - ISSN (Online) 1095-8282
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3161 journals]
  • Females pay the oxidative cost of dominance in a highly social bird
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Liliana R. Silva, Sophie Lardy, André C. Ferreira, Benjamin Rey, Claire Doutrelant, Rita CovasUnderstanding the evolution and maintenance of social behaviour requires a better understanding of the physiological mechanisms underlying the trade-offs between the benefits and costs of social status. Social dominance is expected to provide advantages in terms of access to resources and to reproduction but acquiring and maintaining dominance may also entail physiological costs. Dominant individuals are likely to engage more frequently in aggressive behaviours and/or may allocate a substantial amount of energy and resources to signal their status. Hence, dominance is likely to involve multiple physiological processes that stimulate aerobic metabolism and lead to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). When not depleted, ROS can ultimately lead to oxidative stress. However, the relationship between oxidative status and dominance has seldom been investigated. Here, we examined whether there is a physiological cost, measured as oxidative stress, associated with dominance in a highly social and cooperative bird, the sociable weaver, Philetairus socius. Oxidative status was assessed by measuring circulating oxidative damage and the plasma nonspecific antioxidant capacity. We found that in females, but not in males, dominance was associated with higher levels of oxidative damage than in same-sex subordinates, suggesting that the physiological cost of dominance is underpinned by oxidative stress in a sex-specific manner. This associated cost of dominance was independent of previous and future reproductive status. The sex difference in oxidative damage was associated with sex-specific differences in antioxidant defences, with males (the dominant sex) showing higher antioxidant levels than females, independently of their social rank. These findings indicate that social dominance may entail a trade-off between advantages and physiological costs in a sex-specific manner, exposing females to oxidative stress. This scenario may be aggravated during stressful periods, such as drought episodes when food is scarce, and it has implications for understanding female health, ageing and life span.
  • Temperature variations affect postcopulatory but not precopulatory sexual
           selection in the cigarette beetle
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Yû Suzaki, Satoko Kodera, Haruhi Fujiwara, Rikiya Sasaki, Kensuke Okada, Masako KatsukiThe ambient temperature varies on several timescales such as year, season and day and affects many reproductive traits of ectotherms. Thus, the direction and intensity of sexual selection should be affected by thermal conditions. However, the effects of temperature variation during mating events have sometimes been overlooked. We assessed traits associated with pre- and postcopulatory sexual selection in the cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne, using three thermal mating conditions: 19 °C, 25 °C and 31 °C. Thermal conditions did not affect precopulatory traits (mating rate, mating latency and courtship intensity). Mating duration increased with decreasing temperature, whereas the number of sperm transferred and female fecundity were greatest at 25 °C. To investigate whether these thermal differences affected the risk of sperm competition (remating rate) and fitness consequences for both sexes, we conducted double-mating experiments using a black colour mutant. Females that had first mated at low or high temperatures were more likely to accept remating and exhibited higher fecundity compared to females that rejected remating; when females remated, the paternity of the first male was highest at 25 °C. Thermal conditions at the first mating event affected the fitness consequences for both sexes, irrespective of the females’ remating acceptance. Changes to the thermal conditions for the female remating event caused no difference in the female remating rate or fecundity; however, the paternity of the second mate was highest at the intermediate temperature, and this could be attributed to the decreased sperm transfer at low and high temperatures. Our results suggest that temperature conditions during mating affect postcopulatory processes in L. serricorne. In particular, when females first mated at extreme temperatures, polyandry was promoted, potentially favouring males with higher sperm competitive ability through increased likelihood and intensity of sperm competition.
  • How cognitive biases select for imperfect mimicry: a study of asymmetry in
           learning with bumblebees
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): David W. Kikuchi, Anna DornhausImperfect mimicry presents a paradox of incomplete adaptation – intuitively, closer resemblance should improve performance. Receiver psychology can often explain why mimetic signals do not always evolve to match those of their models. Here, we explored the influence of a pervasive and powerful cognitive bias where associative learning depends upon an asymmetric interaction between the cue (stimulus) and consequence (reinforcer), such as in rats, which will associate light and tone with shock, and taste with nausea, but not the converse. Can such biases alter selection for mimicry' We designed an artificial mimicry system where bees foraged on artificial flowers, so that colours could be switched between rewarding or aversive. We found that when the colour blue was paired with a sucrose reward, other cues were ignored, but not when blue was paired with aversive compounds. We also tested the hypothesis that costs of errors affect how receivers sample imperfect mimics. However, costs of errors did not affect bee visits to imperfect mimics in our study. We propose a novel hypothesis for imperfect mimicry, in which the pairing between specific cues and reinforcers allows an imperfect mimic to resemble multiple models simultaneously. Generally, our results emphasize the importance of receiver psychology for the evolution of signal complexity and specificity.
  • Behaviour shapes environmental variation and selection on learning and
           plasticity: review of mechanisms and implications
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 September 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Emilie C. Snell-Rood, Meredith K. SteckBiologists have long been interested in the factors that maintain variation in learning and plasticity within and between species, especially given the role of such flexibility in coping with novel and changing environments. A large body of theoretical and empirical work has established the role of environmental variation in selecting for learning and plasticity, suggesting that simple measures of such variation could serve as proxies for organismal flexibility. However, a wide range of behavioural and physiological traits can shape how organisms experience environmental variation, and thus how plasticity is shaped by selection. Given that these traits themselves can evolve, this sets up the potential for complex feedbacks in the evolution of learning and plasticity. We begin this review by first detailing the wide variety of behavioural traits that shape environmental variation, ranging from exploration and dispersal to sensory biases and habitat choice. We then review relevant theory that suggests how such behavioural traits can modify selection on learning and plasticity, often favouring the evolution of specialization in heterogeneous environments by reducing the variation that organisms experience. When models allow behavioural traits to jointly evolve with plasticity, model outcomes differ and complex evolutionary feedbacks may emerge. We suggest that further theoretical insights could be gained by incorporating more nuances of development and behaviour, such as variation in the developmental window of environmental sensitivity of traits or differences in exploratory periods prior to breeding. Finally, this review discusses implications of this perspective for understanding the maintenance of genetic variation in learning, differences in colonization and survival in novel environments and making predictions about how species will cope with environmental change.
  • Red-legged partridges perceive the scent of predators and alarm scents of
           an avian heterospecific
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Katharina Mahr, Herbert HoiA growing body of evidence suggests that birds can use olfactory cues to detect the presence of predators. We predicted that the ability to gather information about predator presence through chemical cues might be particularly important for ground-living and foraging bird species, since their main predators, namely mammals and reptiles, use chemical communication. In this context, we experimentally examined the role of olfaction in the nondomesticated, ground-living red-legged partridge, Alectoris rufa, in a natural and context-dependent situation. We tested how individuals responded to three different olfactory stimuli, which were presented in sand bath tubs: (1) a mammalian predator (ferret faeces), (2) an avian alarm scent (alarm secretion of the European hoopoe) and (3) a control (orange oil). As dependent variables we recorded side preferences and dustbathing activity. Red-legged partridges avoided the predator scent to the same extent as the alarm scent of the hoopoe, whereas orange oil scent did not affect side choice or dustbathing behaviour of individuals. Our results indicate that red-legged partridges avoid the scent of a predator as well as the alarm scent of an avian heterospecific. In regard to this, we provide the first indication that, in risk assessment, chemical cues, similar to avian alarm calls, may possibly act as a source of information between avian species.
  • Experimental evidence for the genetic benefits of female mate choice in
           the monandrous wolf spider Pardosa astrigera
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Qijia Wu, Lelei Wen, Jian Chen, Daiqin Li, Xiaoguo JiaoMaterial and/or genetic benefits are hypothesized to be the main drivers of female mate choice. Research on female mate choice has mainly focused on polyandrous species and has seldom considered monandrous species. Given the absence of postcopulatory mate choice in monandrous females, we predicted that precopulatory mate choice is important for monandrous species. Using the wolf spider Pardosa astrigera as a model monandrous species, we compared mating, reproductive output and offspring fitness between females with preferred mates (mates that were accepted on the first exposure) and females with nonpreferred mates (mates that were rejected on the first exposure but were induced to mate on the second exposure). Our results showed that the mating duration, latency to egg laying and to egg hatching, fecundity and egg hatching rate did not differ significantly between females with preferred versus nonpreferred mates. In contrast, female and male development time was significantly shorter and female carapace width was significantly greater for offspring of females with preferred versus nonpreferred mates. In addition, survival from egg hatching to maturity was twice as high for offspring of females with preferred mates. These results indicate that female mate choice by the monandrous P. astrigera provides genetic rather than material benefits.
  • On the evolution of extreme structures: static scaling and the function of
           sexually selected signals
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Devin M. O'Brien, Cerisse E. Allen, Melissa J. Van Kleeck, David Hone, Robert Knell, Andrew Knapp, Stuart Christiansen, Douglas J. EmlenThe ‘positive allometry hypothesis’ predicts that ornaments and weapons of sexual selection will scale steeply when among-individual variation in trait size is compared with variation in overall body size. Intuitive and striking, this idea has been explored in hundreds of contemporary animal species and sparked controversy in palaeobiology over the function of exaggerated structures in dinosaurs and other extinct lineages. Recently, however, challenges to this idea have raised questions regarding the validity of the hypothesis. We address this controversy in two ways. First, we suggest the positive allometry hypothesis be applied only to morphological traits that function as visual signals of individual body size. Second, because steep scaling slopes make traits better signals than other body parts, we propose that tests of the positive allometry hypothesis compare the steepness of the scaling relationships of focal, putative signal traits to those of other body parts in the same organism (rather than to an arbitrary slope of 1). We provide data for a suite of 29 extreme structures and show that steep scaling relationships are common when structures function as signals of relative body size, but not for comparably extreme structures that function in other contexts. We discuss these results in the context of animal signalling and sexual selection, and conclude that patterns of static scaling offer powerful insight into the evolution and function of disproportionately large, or extreme, animal structures. Finally, using data from a ceratopsid dinosaur and a pterosaur, we show that our revised test can be applied to fossil assemblages, making this an exciting and powerful method for gleaning insight into the function of structures in extinct taxa.
  • Dominance ranks, dominance ratings and linear hierarchies: a critique
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 September 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Christof Neumann, David B. McDonald, Daizaburo Shizuka
  • Lateralization of complex behaviours in wild greater flamingos
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Annabelle Vidal, Charlotte Perrot, Jean-Nicolas Jasmin, Eva Lartigau, Antoine Arnaud, Frank Cézilly, Arnaud BéchetLateralization refers to the preferential use of one side of the body to perform certain tasks, often as a consequence of the specialization of cerebral hemispheres. Individuals may benefit from lateralization if it allows them to perform complex tasks simultaneously. Studies on laterality further suggest that sex and age can influence the extent of lateralization. However, most studies on lateralization have been performed on captive individuals, exposed to simplified environments and expressing limited behavioural repertoire. Here, we evaluated behavioural lateralization in the greater flamingo, Phoenicopterus roseus, through observations of wild individuals 5–37 years old. We examined the lateralization of simple behaviours (resting postures) and of several demanding behaviours requiring enhanced motor control and coordination (stamping for food and five courtship postures). Resting postures were not lateralized. In contrast, nearly all flamingos were completely lateralized for stamping, with a significant predominance of right-footed individuals. During courtship displays, twist-preens were significantly lateralized, yet with no dominant laterality at the population level. Finally, we detected a slight positive effect of age on the intensity of twist-preen lateralization, which may be related to the increased complexity of courtship displays with age in this species. Our results support the hypothesis that lateralization manifests in complex behaviours, even in wild animals.
  • Rock pool fish use a combination of colour change and substrate choice to
           improve camouflage
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Samuel P. Smithers, Rebecca Rooney, Alastair Wilson, Martin StevensCamouflage can be achieved by both morphological (e.g. colour, brightness and pattern change) and behavioural (e.g. substrate preference) means. Much of the research on behavioural background matching has been conducted on species with fixed coloration and body patterns, while less is known about the role background choice plays in species capable of rapid (within minutes or seconds) colour change. One candidate species is the rock goby, Gobius paganellus, a common rock pool fish capable of rapid changes in colour and brightness when placed on different backgrounds. However, their ability to match different backgrounds is not unbounded, with some colours and brightness being easier to match than others, thus raising the possibility that gobies may use behavioural background matching to make up for their limited ability to match certain backgrounds. We used digital image analysis and a model of predator vision to investigate the ability of rock gobies to match chromatic (beige and greenish-grey) and achromatic (varying brightness) backgrounds. We then conducted choice experiments to determine whether gobies exhibited a behavioural preference for the backgrounds they were best at matching. Gobies rapidly changed their colour and brightness when placed on the different backgrounds. However, the level of camouflage differed between backgrounds: fish were better at matching beige than greenish-grey, and darker than lighter backgrounds. When given the choice, gobies displayed a behavioural preference for the backgrounds they were best at matching. Our findings therefore show that rock gobies, and probably other animals, use a combination of morphological and behavioural means to achieve camouflage and in doing so mitigate limitations in either approach alone.
  • Resistance is futile: prohibitive costs of egg ejection in an obligate
           avian brood parasite host
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Brian D. Peer, Robert A. McCleery, William E. JensenMost hosts of the parasitic brown-headed cowbird, Molothrus ater, demonstrate an astonishing lack of defences against parasitism, typically explained by evolutionary lag. We investigated antiparasite strategies of the dickcissel, Spiza americana, whose apparent acceptance of parasitism is unlikely to be explained by lag because its historic centre of abundance overlaps with that of the cowbird. Cowbirds parasitized almost half of dickcissel nests (343 of 767 nests), and dickcissels suffered significant costs when attempting to eject cowbird eggs. Our predicted responses indicated that acceptance of parasitism would lead to the loss of 0 hosts eggs, attempted ejections would lead to the loss of 1.2 host eggs and successful ejection of cowbird eggs would lead to the loss of 1.6 host eggs. There was no significant cost of raising a single cowbird nestling, but parasitized nests had 1.1 fewer host eggs due to removal by female cowbirds or when the thick-shelled cowbirds eggs struck the host eggs during laying. After accounting for damaged eggs that still hatched, acceptance of parasitism yielded a loss of 1.1 eggs/nestlings, those that attempted to eject the cowbird egg lost 1.8 eggs/nestlings and those that ejected the cowbird egg lost 2.0 eggs/nestlings. The prohibitive costs of egg ejection combined with the relatively low costs of raising a cowbird nestling may explain why most dickcissels (64%) accepted parasitism or stopped trying to eject cowbird eggs. However, some birds persisted in their ejection attempts, so there are likely additional carryover fitness effects on hosts of raising and sharing nests with cowbirds. Because of the difficulty in ejecting cowbird eggs, dickcissels would benefit from a strategy that emphasizes frontline defences to prevent parasitism from occurring in the first place.
  • Obligate, but not facultative, satellite males prefer the same male sexual
           signal characteristics as females
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Rachel Olzer, Marlene ZukSignalling is energetically expensive and increases the risk of predation and parasite infection. To balance the costs and benefits of mate attraction, individuals may adopt an alternative mating strategy such as satellite behaviour, in which nonsignalling males will settle near signalling males and attempt to intercept approaching females. While many suggest that alternative strategies are ‘making the best of a bad job’, little research has examined whether satellites, particularly obligate satellites, have the potential to increase their mating success by preferentially targeting more attractive signallers. Using the Pacific field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus, we tested the hypothesis that males are more likely to act as satellites to signalling males with particularly attractive songs, as these callers are likely to attract the most females. In this species, a novel male wing mutation, ‘flatwing’, renders some males unable to call. Flatwings are obligate satellites, while nonmutated, normal-wing males switch between calling and satellite strategies. We presented males with calling song models varying in the percentage of long-to-short chirps, a characteristic important in female choice. As was shown for females in previous work, flatwings exhibited a strong preference for calling songs composed of 60% long chirp. Normal wing males did not prefer any particular calling song model. Our results lead to the paradoxical conclusion that males with highly attractive songs may not have the highest mating success. Such male preference for male sexual signals may oppose selection by females and increase competition between signalling and satellite males. This could potentially slow the rate of male trait evolution and influence the evolution of male competition.
  • Subproblem learning and reversal of a multidimensional visual cue in a
           lizard: evidence for behavioural flexibility'
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Birgit Szabo, Daniel W.A. Noble, Richard W. Byrne, David S. Tait, Martin J. WhitingBehavioural flexibility, the ability to adjust behaviour to environmental change by adapting existing skills to novel situations, is key to coping with, for example, complex social interactions, seasonal changes in food availability or detecting predators. We tested the tree skink, Egernia striolata, a family-living skink from eastern Australia, in a set-shifting paradigm of eight colour/shape discriminations including reversals, an intradimensional acquisition of a new colour/shape and extradimensional shift from colour to shape (and vice versa). Skinks could learn to discriminate between colour/shape pairs and reverse this initial stimulus–reward association; however, they showed no significant decrease in the probability of making a correct choice in the extradimensional shift suggesting that they did not form an attentional set. Subjects appear to have learnt each stage as a new problem instead of generalizing stimuli into specific dimensions (set formation). In conclusion, tree skinks solved a discrimination reversal by focusing their attention towards visual stimuli and flexibly adjusting their choice behaviour accordingly. These lizards learned to use multidimensional visual stimuli to find a food reward but did not generalize stimuli into dimensions. Furthermore, this study is the first to test for set shifting in a lizard species and thereby allows us to extend set-shifting theory to a new taxon for comparison with primates, rodents, a bird and a turtle.
  • Courtship diverges with foraging behaviour in artificially selected
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Gemma L. Cole, John A. EndlerThe sensory drive hypothesis proposes that natural selection on certain behaviours will alter sensory system properties and result in correlated evolution of unrelated behaviours reliant on that sensory system. Here, we used artificially selected populations to demonstrate that selection on colour-based foraging behaviour is associated with divergence of male sexual display behaviour. In a previous experiment, populations of guppies, Poecilia reticulata, were selected for increased chase behaviour towards a red or a blue prey item. In this study, we conducted behavioural trials using these artificially selected populations to show that male mating behaviour diverged after artificial selection on foraging behaviour. The behavioural trials showed that the number of courtship displays and total mating activity were reduced in populations selected to chase a red prey item compared to control populations and populations selected to chase a blue prey item. These results show that artificial selection for a given behaviour can result in changes in unrelated behaviours. Our study has shown that selection on a nonmating behaviour may have consequences for sexual behaviour and the evolution of sexual signalling that has previously not been considered.
  • Eastern water dragons modify their social tactics with respect to the
           location within their home range
    • Abstract: Publication date: October 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 144Author(s): Carme Piza-Roca, Kasha Strickland, David Schoeman, Celine H. FrereAnimals may modify their behaviour towards conspecifics to manage social conflict that arises due to group living. Given that social conflict is likely to vary through space, we would expect individuals to adjust their social behaviour, accordingly, across their home range. This, however, remains to be explicitly investigated. Here, we used a longitudinal behavioural data set on eastern water dragons, Intellagama lesueurii, a social reptile, to investigate the extent to which social tactics (individual patterns of long-term social preferences and avoidances) vary across individuals' home ranges. We found that expression of both social tactics increased within the core home range, which also coincided with increased population density and frequency of agonistic displays. Furthermore, we found that the magnitude of this spatial behavioural shift was sex dependent, with females exhibiting a greater increase in both social tactics than males. Together, our results illustrate that dragons modify their social tactics across space, highlighting the importance of accounting for the spatial dimension when studying social behaviour. Our observations further suggest that spatial social plasticity may be key to balancing costs associated with increased social conflict. We encourage new studies to test this link, which may provide important insight into the adaptive significance of spatial social plasticity.
  • Discovering structural complexity and its causes: Breeding aggregations in
           horseshoe crabs
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): H. Jane Brockmann, Colette M. St Mary, José Miguel PoncianoIn some species, especially those that form breeding aggregations, males form groups around females vying for fertilizations. These mating groups are often highly variable in size even during a single breeding event. We examined this variation in the American horseshoe crab, Limulus polyphemus, a species in which some females (nesting in pairs) attract additional males (satellites) and spawn in groups whereas others spawn only with their attached male. The observed distribution of group sizes often consists of an overabundance of pairs with no satellite males and groups with large numbers of satellites. We characterized this variation using well-known models of count data, such as the Poisson and negative binomial distributions, and evaluated how operational sex ratio (OSR) and pair density contribute to the observed variation. We complemented this descriptive approach with spatially explicit simulations of the group formation process. By comparing our simulation results to the observed breeding aggregation data, we identified how simple behavioural rules might contribute to the variation we observe. Those rules amount to hypotheses about pair and satellite arrival at the beach and satellite sampling of and choice among pairs. We found that the observed variation could be explained by a consistent high frequency of females that attract satellites in combination with males that sample different fractions of the beach as pair density and OSR vary. Furthermore, our simulations suggested that males are not choosy in joining pairs on the beach, despite variation among pairs in the fertilization success satellites can achieve. This suggests that new insights might come from investigating the costs and benefits of male choice and the sensory mechanisms satellite males use to assess the breeding aggregation before coming ashore.
  • Social spiders: mildly successful social animals with much untapped
           research potential
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Jonathan N. Pruitt, Leticia AvilésIn some ways, social spiders are a biological novelty item. They are not extraordinarily successful either evolutionarily or ecologically, and their societies suffer a variety of disadvantages that render them more brittle than other social systems. Yet, from an empiricist's perspective, these attributes make them uniquely poised for addressing a variety of research questions. Here we provide a brief overview of the biology of social spiders for the general reader. We then highlight a variety of ecological and evolutionary challenges suffered by these animals that renders them at risk of extinction in the short and long term. We finally discuss how these hardships have given rise to a variety of individual and group level adaptations that are rare or entirely absent in other spiders, as well as in most other social animals. Throughout this article, we highlight gaps in our current understanding of these creatures and draw attention to some of the more promising frontiers for future research. To this end, we have two goals. First, we would like to draw the attention of general behavioural ecologists interested in social evolution to the biology of social spiders, and emphasize a variety of reasons why one might consider these animals for their next research question. Second, for those already inculcated in the social spider literature, we hope that this article will raise the reader's consciousness to various underexplored but promising avenues for future research. With the right research question, social spiders promise to be a high-profile and high-throughput model system.
  • Association Page
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s):
  • Editors Page
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s):
  • Home field advantage, not group size, predicts outcomes of intergroup
           conflicts in a social bird
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Meghan J. Strong, Benjamin L. Sherman, Christina RiehlResearch on cooperatively breeding birds usually focuses on social dynamics within the breeding group, but conflict between groups can also affect individual fitness and the evolution of sociality. Here we investigate the causes and consequences of competition between groups of communally breeding greater anis, Crotophaga major, over a 10-year field study. Social groups were spatially clustered into loose aggregations that showed a moderate degree of reproductive synchrony. However, competition between neighbouring groups for nesting sites was intense, occasionally leading to wholesale destruction of a group's nesting attempt and abandonment of the site. We documented 18 cases in which a group's entire clutch of eggs was ejected from the nest during the laying or incubation period, often accompanied by behavioural observations of conflict with a neighbouring group. Clutch destruction typically occurred when two groups attempted to nest in close proximity on high-quality sites: nearest-neighbour distance and nest site type were the strongest predictors of clutch destruction. Surprisingly, group size did not predict whether or not a group's clutch would be destroyed, and small groups sometimes ousted larger groups. By contrast, ‘home field advantage’ did have a significant effect: groups that had previously nested on the site were more likely to destroy the clutches of newly established groups, and this effect increased with the number of years that the group had nested there. Together, these results support previous evidence that competition between groups for high-quality nesting sites is an important driver of communal breeding, and they highlight the importance of location and past history in determining the outcome of intergroup contests in social species.
  • Territoriality and behavioural strategies at the natal host patch differ
           in two microsympatric Nasonia species
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Magdalena M. Mair, Joachim RutherTerritoriality occurs in a wide variety of animal taxa. The defence of valuable resources, which in the case of territoriality are bound to a specific location, gives the defender priority of access to these resources. Males often defend areas in which the chance to meet females is high and territoriality frequently includes pheromonal marking. When closely related species co-occur within the same environment, different behavioural strategies frequently evolve to avoid reproductive interference. Males of the gregarious parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis exhibit territorial behaviour on the host from which they emerge. However, descriptions of territorial behaviour have been for the most part anecdotal and quantitative standardized observations in an experimental set-up are lacking. In addition, studies of the behaviour of the other Nasonia species that frequently occur in microsympatry, that is, within the same host individual, have rarely been conducted. We investigated and compared territoriality in two species of Nasonia by extensive video recording of emerging wasps in a microcosm approach. We show that males of N. vitripennis meet the concept of territoriality whereas males of Nasonia giraulti do not. Although N. giraulti females are already mated when emerging from the host and males do not show territoriality, N. giraulti males mark the substrate with their abdominal sex pheromone as often as males of N. vitripennis. For N. vitripennis we further show that, although larger males were more often territorial, experience of being in the territorial position was particularly important for winning territoriality contests. Finally, we investigated differences in the pattern of emergence and dispersal between the two species and discuss how the different behavioural strategies may help them avoid reproductive interference.
  • Size variability effects on visual detection are influenced by colour
           pattern and perceived size
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Einat Karpestam, Sami Merilaita, Anders ForsmanMost animals including humans use vision to detect, identify, evaluate and respond to potential prey items in complex environments. Theories predict that predators' visual search performance is better when targets are similar than when targets are dissimilar and require divided attention, and this may contribute to colour pattern polymorphism in prey. Most prey also vary in size, but how size variation influences detectability and search performance of predators that utilize polymorphic prey has received little attention. To evaluate the effect of size variability on prey detection we asked human subjects to search for images of black, grey and striped pygmy grasshoppers presented on computer screens in size-variable (large, medium and small) or in size-invariable (all medium) sequences (populations) against photographs of natural grasshopper habitat. Results showed that size variability either increased or reduced detection of medium-sized targets depending on colour morph. To evaluate whether bias in perceived size varies depending on colour pattern, subjects were asked to discriminate between two grasshopper images of identical size that were presented in pairs against a monochromatic background. Subjects more often incorrectly classified one of the two identical-sized targets as being larger than the other in colour-dimorphic than in monomorphic presentations. The distinctly patterned (striped) morph elicited stronger size perception biases than the dorsally grey or black morphs, and striped grasshoppers were incorrectly classified more often as smaller than grey grasshoppers. The direction of the effect of size variability on detection changed across colour patterns as the bias in perceived size increased. Such joint effects of variation in size and colour pattern on detection and perception can impact the outcome of behavioural and evolutionary interactions between visually oriented predators and their camouflaged prey. This may have consequences for population dynamics, evolution of polymorphisms, community species composition and ecosystem functioning.
  • Signal or cue' Locomotion-induced sounds and the evolution of
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Christopher J. Clark
  • Daily foraging routines in food-caching mountain chickadees are associated
           with variation in environmental harshness
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): A.M. Pitera, C.L. Branch, E.S. Bridge, V.V. PravosudovSmall birds overwintering in cold climates must meet the daily challenge of accumulating sufficient energy reserves throughout the day to ensure overnight survival. Theoretical work suggests that risk of starvation is a major force shaping optimal daily foraging routines. Animals are predicted to adjust how they distribute their daily foraging activity in relation to environmental harshness, which largely determines the risk of starvation. Here, we used radiofrequency identification (RFID)-enabled bird feeders to test whether mountain chickadees, Poecile gambeli – small, resident, food-caching birds – exhibited different daily foraging routines in harsher (higher elevation) versus milder (lower elevation) environments in the Sierra Nevada. In addition, we assessed foraging routines between four different periods of the nonbreeding season ranging from autumn (milder conditions) to winter and early spring (harsher conditions) and to late spring (milder conditions). We also tested whether individual variation in spatial cognition associated with food caching, which represents a more reliable food source that can be expected to lower risk of starvation, is associated with differences in daily foraging routines. Chickadees from both elevations distributed their daily foraging efforts differently throughout the nonbreeding season, consistent with theoretical predictions for milder and harsher conditions. Differences between chickadees from high and low elevations were especially pronounced during harsher winter periods, with chickadees from high elevations showing a bimodal daily routine, while low-elevation birds showed an inverted U-shaped daily routine, with most foraging during the middle of the day. Finally, significant differences in daily routines were associated with variation in spatial learning and memory performance. Overall, our study shows that daily foraging routines are consistent with risk of starvation under different degrees of environmental harshness, whether across nonbreeding seasons or between elevations, and that perception of harshness may be associated with cognitive abilities.
  • Social context-dependent provisioning rules in red-winged fairy-wrens do
           not vary with signals of increased chick need
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): K.J. MacLeod, L. BrouwerIndividuals should adjust investment in parental care in order to maximize current and future reproductive success. In cooperative breeders, where helpers assist with raising offspring, larger groups may allow for a reduction in investment (load lightening) of each individual. Additionally, the type of individual, and thus the social context, can play an important role in individual investment. Less attention has been paid to how provisioning rules vary across ecological contexts, although theory suggests that individuals can only afford to reduce their investment when nestling starvation is unlikely, thus under mild conditions. Here, we tested whether previously reported provisioning rules based on social context vary with ecological conditions, by experimental manipulation of signals of chick need, in the cooperatively breeding red-winged fairy-wren, Malurus elegans. Previous work in this species has shown that all group members load-lighten with additional male helpers, but not in response to the number of female helpers in the group (additive care). We show that experimental begging playback resulted in all individuals increasing their provisioning rates, indicating that our treatment was perceived as increased chick need. However, in contrast to our prediction that load lightening should only occur when individuals can afford to do so, signals of increased chick need did not stop individuals from reducing their investment with an increasing number of male helpers in the group. These results suggest that despite some flexibility in parental effort, individuals use strict rules with respect to group composition, suggesting that individual provisioning effort is based on multiple integrated cues, and responses to changes in the environment are highly context dependent.
  • Flexible compensation of uniparental care in an arachnid species: things
           are not always what they seem
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Sergio Nolazco, Gustavo S. RequenaFlexible compensatory parental care takes place when one parent increases its parental effort in response to its mate's reduction or absence. Although this behavioural response is well known in species with biparental care, the few cases attributed to species with uniparental care are usually based on descriptive observations of apparent compensation without a proper examination of its effects on offspring fitness. In the harvestman Serracutisoma proximum, a species with female uniparental care, harem-owning males stand on unattended clutches when the egg-tending females desert or die. Here, we experimentally investigated under field conditions whether this behaviour constitutes an example of true parental compensation. We evaluated the effects of ecological and life history factors on males' proximity to unattended clutches. We also presented egg predators to the harem-owning males and parental females when they were standing on their clutches and compared their aggressive responses. Finally, we compared egg survival between three manipulation groups: in the absence of both adults; in the presence of only the harem-owning males; and in the presence of the parental females. We observed that males spent considerably less time standing on clutches than parental females, rarely attacked potential egg predators (in contrast to parental females which commonly exhibited aggressive behaviours) and, ultimately, had no effect on offspring survival. Our results do not support the existence of paternal compensation in S. proximum. Instead, we hypothesize that males' behaviour comprises a tactic that increases: (1) fertilization success of unfertilized eggs retained by egg-tending females that temporarily abandon the clutch; and/or (2) mating success with newcomer mates that trade copulations for the opportunity to cannibalize the unattended offspring. This study demonstrates that it is imperative to formally test adaptive assumptions before deriving conclusions on the evolution of complex traits and their implications, as an apparently adaptive behaviour is not always what it seems.
  • Increased investment in the defence of high-value offspring by a
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Kevin L. HaightParental investment theory predicts that parents should adjust their investment in offspring defence according to offspring value (i.e. the probability they will contribute to the next generation). Although previous research has shown this offspring value prediction is generally supported in unitary organisms, the ‘superorganisms’ formed by advanced colonial organisms have rarely been tested, and never by direct manipulation of offspring value. As an important complement to correlational studies, such a test would help better illuminate the applicability of the parental investment theory to that higher level of biological organization, as well as provide insight into the depth of the superorganism analogy. Here I use colonies of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, in a manipulative experiment to test whether superorganisms behave as predicted by the parental investment theory and invest more in defence (deliver larger venom doses) when protecting higher-value offspring. In addition, to test a proposed mechanism for observed increases, I conducted an experiment to investigate whether S. invicta alarm pheromone modulates venom dose. I found that colonies delivered larger venom doses when defending nests containing higher-value (sexual) offspring than when defending worker-destined brood, but I found no venom dose increase as a result of additional alarm pheromone. The conformity of S. invicta colonies to the offspring value prediction of the parental investment theory supports the theory's applicability to their higher (superorganismal) level of animal organization. It furthermore underscores that the superorganism concept is deeper than simple anatomical/organizational analogy, but extends also to colony-level behaviour.
  • Concealment in a dynamic world: dappled light and caustics mask movement
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Samuel R. Matchette, Innes C. Cuthill, Nicholas E. Scott-SamuelThe environment plays a significant role in shaping the visibility of signals both to and from an organism. For example, against a static background movement is highly conspicuous, which favours staying still to optimize camouflage. However, backgrounds can also be highly dynamic, such as areas with wind-blown foliage or frequent changes in illumination. We propose that these dynamic features act as visual noise which could serve to mask otherwise conspicuous movement. Two forms of illumination change were simulated, water caustics and dappled light, to represent dynamic aquatic and terrestrial environments, respectively. When asked to capture moving prey items within the simulated scenes, human participants were significantly slower and more error prone when viewing scenes with dynamic illumination. This effect was near identical for both the aquatic and terrestrial environments. In the latter, prey item movement was also found to be masked most often when the pathway taken involved movement across the dynamic dappled areas of the scene. This could allow particularly moving prey to reduce their signal-to-noise ratio by behaviourally favouring the relative safety of environments containing dynamic features.
  • Sing and do not stray: male rufous-and-white wrens use duets and physical
           behaviours to guard their mates
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Zachary A. Kahn, Christopher Moser-Purdy, Daniel J. MennillIn diverse animal taxa, breeding partners coordinate their vocalizations to produce vocal duets. One seldom-studied hypothesis for duets is the paternity guarding hypothesis, which states that male animals create duets to advertise their partner's mated status and minimize extrapair mating attempts between their partner and other males. We experimentally tested the paternity guarding hypothesis in rufous-and-white wrens, Thryophilus rufalbus, a neotropical duetting songbird. We designed a two-part playback experiment: males first experienced a simulated territorial intrusion by a rival male, and were then given opportunities to answer their female breeding partner's songs to create duets. We repeated this experiment during the female's fertile and nonfertile breeding stages. In support of predictions of the paternity guarding hypothesis, male wrens created more duets with their partner's songs during the fertile period compared to the nonfertile period. Additionally, male wrens appeared to physically guard their mates with greater intensity during the fertile period but did not increase their overall song rates, demonstrating that increased duetting rates during the fertile period were a result of a change in male duetting behaviour, rather than a change in song rate. Our study is among the first to experimentally test the paternity guarding hypothesis for duet function, and suggests that male rufous-and-white wrens use both vocal and physical behaviours to guard their paternity.
  • Cognitive constraints on optimal foraging in frog-eating bats
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Claire T. Hemingway, Michael J. Ryan, Rachel A. PageAnimals are expected to optimize energy intake when choosing between different foraging options. A common explanation for deviations from optimal economic decisions is that there is an imperfect relationship between physical reality and an animal's perceptual processes, which can constrain assessment of profitability. One such phenomenon that is apparently ubiquitous across taxa is proportional processing, where a perceived change in a stimulus is proportional to the change in stimulus magnitude. In this study, we investigated whether proportional processing explains how frog-eating bats, Trachops cirrhosus, discriminate between patches of frog choruses that vary in their number of calling frogs. To test this, we created artificial choruses consisting of one to six calling frogs. In the flight cage, we then tested the preference of bats (N = 17) with every pairwise combination of chorus size. We found that while bats generally preferred larger choruses, preferences for larger choruses were better explained by the relative, not absolute, differences in chorus sizes. This indicates that T. cirrhosus is perceptually limited in its ability to discriminate between choruses of varying size as the choruses increase in size. Foragers are likely to be less choosy when choosing among larger patches.
  • Antipredator strategies of striped skunks in response to cues of aerial
           and terrestrial predators
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Kimberly A. Fisher, Theodore StankowichPrey species defend themselves behaviourally and morphologically, and often use varied antipredator strategies against dissimilar predator types (i.e. terrestrial versus aerial). Striped skunks, Mephitis mephitis, spray noxious secretions at predators and advertise this danger with deterrent behaviours and black-and-white aposematic coloration. Evidence suggests skunks are effective at deterring terrestrial mammalian predators but are vulnerable to aerial predators; how skunks assess the risk posed by different predator types, however, has not been examined empirically. We recorded the behavioural responses of skunks to audio playbacks of coyotes, Canis latrans, and great horned owls, Bubo virginianus (the primary terrestrial and aerial predators of skunks, respectively), and peregrine falcons, Falco peregrinus, and white noise as controls. Skunks ran away more often from vocalizations of their main predators, great horned owls and coyotes, than from diurnal falcon vocalizations or white noise recordings. Skunks also tended to run away sooner in response to owl vocalizations than falcon or coyote vocalizations. Finally, subjects tended to engage in vigilance more frequently in response to owl vocalizations than in response to coyote vocalizations, which together with other results suggest that skunks may perceive owls as more threatening relative to coyotes. This study elucidates how a well-defended mammal can determine which perceived threat is the riskiest and alter its behaviour when its main defence strategy may not be successful against all predator types.
  • Orphaning and natal group dispersal are associated with social costs in
           female elephants
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Shifra Z. Goldenberg, George WittemyerSocial environments are fundamental to fitness in many species. In disrupted societies, the loss of important partners may alter social environments for surviving individuals. African elephants, Loxodonta africana, have experienced age-selective mortality linked to the ivory trade, and the resulting social costs for surviving young elephants are unknown. In this study, we followed orphaned female elephants and nonorphaned counterparts in Kenya's Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves to elucidate whether orphaning and related dispersal behaviour incur social costs. There were clear social differences between orphans and nonorphans, most notably in that orphans tended to receive more aggression than nonorphans. Dispersal from natal groups was a behaviour found exclusively among orphans. Differences in social environments of orphans that remained in their natal groups and those that dispersed were also found in the form of dispersed orphans receiving more aggression while feeding than those that remained in their natal group. Our results suggest that orphaning in elephants is associated with social costs, and that these costs are amplified for orphans that disperse from their natal groups. Future research should identify the relationship between the social costs of being an orphan and fitness, which may be important to the recovery of populations affected by the ivory trade and other forms of disruption.
  • No task specialization among helpers in Damaraland mole-rats
    • Abstract: Publication date: September 2018Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 143Author(s): Jack Thorley, Rute Mendonça, Philippe Vullioud, Miquel Torrents-Ticó, Markus Zöttl, David Gaynor, Tim Clutton-BrockThe specialization of individuals in specific behavioural tasks is often attributed either to irreversible differences in development, which generate functionally divergent cooperative phenotypes, or to age-related changes in the relative frequency with which individuals perform different cooperative activities; both of which are common in many insect caste systems. However, contrasts in cooperative behaviour can take other forms and, to date, few studies of cooperative behaviour in vertebrates have explored the effects of age, adult phenotype and early development on individual differences in cooperative behaviour in sufficient detail to discriminate between these alternatives. Here, we used multinomial models to quantify the extent of behavioural specialization within nonreproductive Damaraland mole-rats, Fukomys damarensis, at different ages. We showed that, although there were large differences between individuals in their contribution to cooperative activities, there was no evidence of individual specialization in cooperative activities that resembled the differences found in insect societies with distinct castes where individual contributions to different activities are negatively related to each other. Instead, individual differences in helping behaviour appeared to be the result of age-related changes in the extent to which individuals committed to all forms of helping. A similar pattern is observed in cooperatively breeding meerkats, Suricata suricatta, and there is no unequivocal evidence of caste differentiation in any cooperative vertebrate. The multinomial models we employed offer a powerful heuristic tool to explore task specialization and developmental divergence across social taxa and provide an analytical approach that may be useful in exploring the distribution of different forms of helping behaviour in other cooperative species.
  • Dispatches from the field: sociality and reproductive success in prairie
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 4 August 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Nancy G. Solomon, Brian KeaneOne way to characterize sociality is by the type and variability of social organization exhibited by individuals within populations. Social unit size and composition can result in costs and benefits to female group members, which may affect their reproductive success. We tested this hypothesis using data from two natural populations of prairie voles, Microtus ochrogaster, that live in habitats differing in the distribution of vegetation and in population density. During short-term investigations of populations in Indiana and Kansas (4–8 weeks), we detected significant differences between populations in the type of social units in which adult females resided, with most adult females in Kansas living as single females, whereas in Indiana most females resided in groups. However, neither social unit size nor composition was related to female reproductive success in either population. When we studied the same Indiana population for 15 weeks, the length of time that females were detected on the study grid or were residents at a nest predicted the number of offspring they produced. In addition, the number of offspring produced by females tended to decrease with group size, although this relationship was not statistically significant. Finally, social unit size was not significantly related to the amount of time females were detected in the population. Our results suggest that females do not obtain increased direct or indirect fitness by living in larger groups. Rather, persistence and residency status of females in the population are the best predictors of female reproductive success.
  • Friend or foe' The dynamics of social life
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 25 July 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Regina H. Macedo, Emily H. DuVal
  • Components of change and the evolution of learning in theory and
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 June 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Aimee S. Dunlap, Matthew W. Austin, Andreia FigueiredoTheoretical treatments of the evolution of learning have a long and rich history, and although many aspects remain unresolved, the consensus is that the predictability and timescale of environmental change play a crucial role in when learning evolves. Directly testing these ideas has proven difficult because comparative experiments must assume many often unknowable aspects of an evolutionary past. Even within the present, identifying and accurately quantifying the relevant types of change can be problematic. Controlling or manipulating change can be difficult in many taxa. Within the theory, what is meant by change can markedly vary between models. Here, we present a targeted comparison of models to show this variation, and argue that standardizing measures of change can add tractability to models. We first review how change is emphasized in models of learning evolution and then describe the still small literature that directly tests the evolution of learning via digital evolution and experimental evolution. We then give an example of how to tie specific natural history to larger theory on learning evolution using the flag model of reliability and certainty and foraging in bumblebees. Learning, by its nature, is of fundamental importance to many fields. Theoretical treatments of learning evolution have been growing at a rapid pace, often with limited empirical applicability to natural systems and little congruence on what is meant by change across models. By explicitly defining change and tying models to natural systems, we can greatly increase our ability to not only understand when learning should evolve, but also when learning does evolve.
  • Culture and cultural evolution in birds: a review of the evidence
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 June 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Lucy M. AplinSocial learning from the observation of knowledgeable individuals can allow behaviours, skills and techniques to spread across populations and transmit between generations, potentially leading to emergent cultures. An increasing body of research has not only evidenced the occurrence of cultural behaviour in nonhuman animals, but also hypothesized that such cultures could ‘evolve’ over time in a way that shares key characteristics with biological evolution, including through a process of selection on variance, inheritance and adaptation. Outside of humans, song and contact calls in birds provide by far the most comprehensive evidence for culture and cultural evolution. However, birds have often been considered ‘one-trick cultural ponies’, only exhibiting significant diversity in this single component of their behavioural repertoire. Recent studies have begun to challenge this view. Here, I review the evidence across multiple behavioural domains for wild cultures in birds. I then discuss the evidence in birds for four key concepts of cultural evolution: (1) variation, selection, inheritance, (2) adaptation, (3) geographical and demographic processes and (4) the accumulation of modifications. I incorporate the evidence from birdsong with other behavioural domains for each key concept and identify important gaps in knowledge. Finally, I discuss how taking a cultural evolution perspective can be informative for our understanding of cognitive ecology more broadly.
  • Animal expertise: mechanisms, ecology and evolution
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 June 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Reuven DukasExpertise consists of the features that allow individuals with extensive experience on a given complex task to show superior performance on that task compared to novices. While expertise has been investigated mostly in humans, it is highly relevant for other species as well because it can have strong effects on fitness. Moreover, studying expertise in nonhumans can help us understand human expertise. Several features that distinguish experts within their domain of expertise from novices include (1) greater long-term memory, (2) larger capacity of working memory, (3) better ability to focus attention on the most relevant concurrent tasks, (4) superior ability to anticipate, perceive and comprehend the relevant elements in one's surroundings, (5) quicker and better decisions, and (6) faster and more coordinated motor movements. The development of expertise follows a characteristic pattern of gradual improvement in performance over extended periods devoted to practising a given complex task. Heritable variation in a few traits can affect the rate of expertise acquisition and its peak levels. These traits include motivation to practise, perseverance, basic cognitive abilities such as attention span, working memory capacity, learning rates and memory retention, and various physiological, anatomical and morphological features. Key environmental factors influencing expertise development are parental and social settings, which may encourage investment in the extended practice necessary for achieving superior performance on complex tasks. Future work on the evolutionary biology of expertise should focus on the yet unknown neurobiological mechanisms that underlie it, heritable variation in the traits that enable expertise and their genetic basis, further quantifications of expertise acquisition in natural settings, the fitness consequences of the traits that facilitate top expert performance, and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of expertise.
  • The cognition of ‘nuisance’ species
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 May 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Lisa P. Barrett, Lauren A. Stanton, Sarah Benson-AmramRecent work in animal cognition has focused on how animals respond to new or changing environments. Although many species are currently in decline, other species are thriving in human-altered habitats by taking advantage of new resources and opportunities associated with anthropogenic disturbance. Yet, as a result, these same species are often in conflict with humans and treated as a nuisance. Therefore, cognitive abilities such as innovation and behavioural flexibility may, paradoxically, lead to the demise of especially adaptive individuals. Here we review what is known about the cognition of ‘nuisance’ species and ‘problem’ individuals to shed light on the struggles of coexistence with humans along disturbed landscapes. We take an in-depth look at several cognitive abilities that are hypothesized to be of critical importance for species that are successfully utilizing human-altered environments, including neophilia, boldness, categorization, innovation, memory, learning, social learning and behavioural flexibility, and examine evidence that these cognitive abilities may also bring animals into conflict with humans. We also highlight some examples of species that may be using cognitive mechanisms to change their behaviour to avoid conflict with humans. We then discuss the role of animal cognition in current mitigation strategies that have been developed to address human–wildlife conflict. Additionally, we consider the role that human behaviour and perception of animals might play in either worsening or lessening conflict with wildlife. Finally, we propose some directions for future research and suggest that empirical investigation of ‘nuisance’ animal cognition could reveal the cognitive mechanisms underlying adaptation to anthropogenic change as well as help mitigate human–wildlife conflict.
  • ‘Crazy love’: nonlinearity and irrationality in mate choice
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 May 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Michael J. Ryan, Rachel A. Page, Kimberly L. Hunter, Ryan C. TaylorChoosing a mate is one of the most important decisions an animal can make. The fitness consequences of mate choice have been analysed extensively, and its mechanistic bases have provided insights into how animals make such decisions. Less attention has been given to higher-level cognitive processes. The assumption that animals choose mates predictably and rationally is an important assumption in both ultimate and proximate analyses of mate choice. It is becoming clear, however, that irrational decisions and unpredictable nonlinearities often characterize mate choice. Here we review studies in which cognitive analyses seem to play an important role in the following contexts: auditory grouping; Weber's law; competitive decoys; multimodal communication; and, perceptual rescue. The sum of these studies suggest that mate choice decisions are more complex than they might seem and suggest some caution in making assumptions about evolutionary processes and simplistic mechanisms of mate choice.
  • Spatial memory and cognitive flexibility trade-offs: to be or not to be
           flexible, that is the question
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 March 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Maria C. Tello-Ramos, Carrie L. Branch, Dovid Y. Kozlovsky, Angela M. Pitera, Vladimir V. PravosudovCognitive flexibility allows animals to readily acquire new information even when learning contingencies may rapidly change, as is the case in highly variable, but predictable, environments. While cognitive flexibility is broadly thought to be beneficial, animals exhibit inter- and intraspecific variation, with higher levels of flexibility associated with reduced memory retention and vice versa. In this review, we discuss when and why such variation may exist and focus specifically on memory and memory flexibility. We argue that retained memories may negatively affect the acquisition of new information, most likely via proactive interference, and available data suggest that there may be a trade-off between memory retention and acquiring new memories. We discuss neurogenesis-mediated forgetting as the mechanism reducing memory interference, as new neurons enhance learning new information but also cause forgetting of older memories. Selection may be expected to favour either end of the continuum between memory retention and memory flexibility depending on life history and environment. More stable environments may favour memory retention over flexibility whereas rapidly changing environments may favour flexibility over retention. Higher memory capacity also seems to be associated with higher memory interference, so higher neurogenesis rates associated with forgetting of unnecessary information may be favoured when higher capacity is beneficial such as in food-caching species. More research is necessary to understand whether inter- and intraspecific differences in the association between memory retention and flexibility are related to some general ecological patterns, whether this association is heritable, and whether developmental conditions and experience have different effects on this association in different species.
  • Breeding clusters in birds: ecological selective contexts, mating systems
           and the role of extrapair fertilizations
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 2 March 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Regina H. Macedo, Jeffrey Podos, Jeff A. Graves, Lilian T. ManicaSociality beyond mated pairs, whether in the form of nesting colonies, clustered territories or leks, presents an evolutionary puzzle because densely packed individuals typically incur high fitness costs. One hypothesis to explain clustered distributions is that they overlie clumped distributions of resources. However, numerous studies have shown that resource distributions are often insufficient to explain individuals' settlement decisions, suggesting that clustered breeding distributions are driven by other types of benefits, possibly related to ecological, social and genetic factors. One can ask more specifically whether animals cluster because of some underlying ecological factor, or whether aspects of their reproductive behaviour and mating systems are more influential. Accordingly, evaluating the influence of sexual selection upon the evolution of mating systems can be crucial for understanding the underlying causes of animal aggregations. In this article, we review the behavioural ecology of three types of mating systems where breeding occurs in clusters: colonial, lekking and socially monogamous clustered territorial systems. We highlight sexual selection as a potential explanation for the emergence of aggregations in all three cases. In particular, we discuss the hidden lek hypothesis, which postulates that aggregations in colonial and territorial species can be driven by increased opportunities for extrapair copulations. Finally, we feature our work with the blue-black grassquit, Volatinia jacarina, which illustrates the complexity of selective mechanisms that may favour territorial aggregations.
  • The spatial dynamics of female choice in an exploded lek generate benefits
           of aggregation for experienced males
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 7 February 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Emily H. DuVal, Carla C. Vanderbilt, Leithen K. M'GonigleThe spatial distribution of prospective mates can dramatically affect the process and outcome of mate choice. In a variety of species, spacing between males influences the likelihood that females visit particular individuals or respond to competing signals. Discrimination by females is expected to be highest among neighbouring males, yet males of some species aggregate in ways that apparently facilitate such comparisons. To better understand the selective pressures affecting male aggregation, we investigated how spatial organization of male territories related to female mate sampling tactics and male mating success in the lance-tailed manakin, Chiroxiphia lanceolata. This species displays in a dispersed lek of alpha males, each of which usually has a subordinate beta partner that participates in displays but does not mate with females attracted by their cooperative courtship. We video-recorded courtship activity at display perches of 12 alpha–beta pairs for 42 days in 2013, and documented 478 visits by 82 banded females. We further quantified the relationship of aggregation with genetic mating success for 49 alphas displaying at georeferenced locations in 5 years. Males with close neighbouring alphas were visited by more females, but geographic centrality was unrelated to female visit frequency. Females moved shorter distances between consecutive courtship visits than expected at random, but only 20.5% of 73 females visiting males with video-monitored nearest neighbours visited both neighbouring alpha males. Effects of aggregation on annual genetic reproductive success were only evident after accounting for the stronger effects of alpha age and experience, and only experienced alphas benefited from having close neighbours. Selection for aggregation more likely influences social behaviour of older alphas than settlement decisions by younger males. Benefits of aggregation for experienced alphas mitigate declines in old age, and may generate selective pressure favouring the long-term social alliances that are a key characteristic of this mating system.
  • Social costs are an underappreciated force for honest signalling in animal
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 6 January 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Michael S. Webster, Russell A. Ligon, Gavin M. LeightonAnimals in social aggregations use signals of quality or motivation to attract mates and intimidate rivals. Theory indicates that honesty can be maintained in these signals if the costs of signalling affect low-quality individuals more than they affect high-quality individuals. Considerable research has focused on identifying the nature of those costs and their ability to maintain honest signals. Much of this research, particularly in recent years, has focused on receiver-independent physiological costs of signal production. Less research attention has been paid to receiver-dependent costs that might arise from conspecific responses to signals. Here we survey the literature on these different types of costs, focusing in particular on case studies from a diversity of taxa. We find that signals often do carry significant physiological production costs, but this is not universal, as many signals appear to be physiologically inexpensive to produce. More importantly, very few studies have tested the key prediction that physiological production costs differentially affect low-quality individuals over high-quality individuals. In contrast, research from a diversity of taxa indicates that signals such as coloration and vocalizations often affect agonistic interactions, which in turn affect the production of signals, and that deceptive signallers receive more aggression than do honest signallers in at least some systems. Social costs are a plausible but understudied mechanism for maintaining honest signalling.
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