Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Social Information use by Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis, an Experiment Revisited
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Straates, K. ; Ydenberg, R.C. ; Wieren, S.E. van; Swierstra, P.S. ; Prins, H.H.T. - \ 2014
Ardea 102 (2014)2. - ISSN 0373-2266 - p. 173 - 180.
public information - brent geese - goose flocks - group-size - food quality - bernicla - personality - vigilance - selection - patch
Reproducing research results is one of the cornerstones of science. However, few biological findings are actually replicated. Here, we repeat a study done more than 35 years ago on social information use in Barnacle Geese. In the original study, models of Barnacle Geese were used to measure how they attracted wild Barnacle Geese (Drent & Swierstra 1977). Models were placed in different locations in a pasture and these models attracted many wild Barnacle Geese, providing strong evidence for the use of social information. 37 years later we repeated this experiment, using the same models, the same area and a similar research protocol. Despite an abundance of wild Barnacle Geese in the area frequently flying over the models, the models did not elicit a landing response. In line with the original study, we scored vigilance rates and abundance of geese. Comparing these data to previous records we found that total abundance increased but that vigilance rates were lower than previously recorded. The decreased vigilance suggests that the landscape has become safer or that competition between geese has intensified; both could explain a reduced use of social information. More generally, our study shows the importance of repeating experiments in ecology, especially in a rapidly changing world.
Humans use social information to adjust their quorum thresholds adaptively in a simulated predator detection experiment
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Wolf, M. ; Krause, J. - \ 2014
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 68 (2014)3. - ISSN 0340-5443 - p. 449 - 456.
collective decision-making - between-individual differences - nest-site selection - false alarms - antipredator vigilance - leptothorax-albipennis - public information - animal groups - fish shoals - evolution
Quorum sensing is used in many biological systems to increase decision accuracy. In quorum sensing, the probability that an individual adopts a behavior is a nonlinear function of the number of other individuals adopting this behavior. From an optimal decision-making perspective, individuals should adjust their quorum threshold to the particulars of the decision problem. Recent work predicts that a key factor here is the quality of social information. In particular, it is predicted that individuals should adjust their quorum thresholds such that it lies in between the average true and false positive rate of the other group members. We here test this prediction with a predator detection experiment. First, human groups observed a group of animals (projected on a white screen) in which a predator was present or absent, and each individual made an independent decision to escape or not. Second, individuals received social information on the decisions of their group members, after which individuals decided again. This social information, however, did not represent their own decisions but consisted of responses that either came from a high-performing group (i.e., many individuals detecting the predator) or from a low-performing group (i.e., few individuals detecting the predator). We found that individuals adaptively adjust their quorum threshold to the quality of the social information: when receiving social information from high-performing groups, individuals employed higher quorum thresholds than when receiving information from low-performing groups. Our study demonstrates that humans can quickly evaluate the quality of publicly available information and adaptively adjust their decision rules.
Data from: Genetic consequences of breaking migratory traditions in barnacle geese Branta leucopsis
Jonker, R.M. ; Kraus, Robert ; Zhang, Q. ; Hooft, Pim van; Larsson, K. ; Jeugd, H.P. van der; Kurvers, Ralf ; Wieren, Sip van; Loonen, M.J.J.E. ; Crooijmans, Richard ; Ydenberg, Ron ; Groenen, Martien ; Prins, Herbert - \ 2013
Wageningen University & Research
population genetics - SNP - admixture - Branta leucopsis - migration modelling - speciation - cultural evolution
Cultural transmission of migratory traditions enables species to deal with their environment based on experiences from earlier generations. Also, it allows a more adequate and rapid response to rapidly changing environments. When individuals break with their migratory traditions, new population structures can emerge that may affect gene flow. Recently, the migratory traditions of the Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis changed, and new populations differing in migratory distance emerged. Here, we investigate the population genetic structure of the Barnacle Goose to evaluate the consequences of altered migratory traditions. We used a set of 358 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers to genotype 418 individuals from breeding populations in Greenland, Spitsbergen, Russia, Sweden and the Netherlands, the latter two being newly emerged populations. We used discriminant analysis of principal components, FST, linkage disequilibrium and a comparison of geneflow models using migrate-n to show that there is significant population structure, but that relatively many pairs of SNPs are in linkage disequilibrium, suggesting recent admixture between these populations. Despite the assumed traditions of migration within populations, we also show that genetic exchange occurs between all populations. The newly established nonmigratory population in the Netherlands is characterized by high emigration into other populations, which suggests more exploratory behaviour, possibly as a result of shortened parental care. These results suggest that migratory traditions in populations are subject to change in geese and that such changes have population genetic consequences. We argue that the emergence of nonmigration probably resulted from developmental plasticity.
Collective cognition in humans: groups outperform their best members in a sentence reconstruction task
Clement, R.J.G. ; Krause, S. ; Engelhardt, N. von; Faria, J.J. ; Krause, J. ; Kurvers, R.H.J.M. - \ 2013
PLoS ONE 8 (2013)10. - ISSN 1932-6203 - 7 p.
to-numbers problems - decision-making - prediction markets - group-performance - individuals - consensus - wisdom - crowd - size
Group-living is widespread among animals and one of the major advantages of group-living is the ability of groups to solve cognitive problems that exceed individual ability. Humans also make use of collective cognition and have simultaneously developed a highly complex language to exchange information. Here we investigated collective cognition of human groups regarding language use in a realistic situation. Individuals listened to a public announcement and had to reconstruct the sentence alone or in groups. This situation is often encountered by humans, for instance at train stations or airports. Using recent developments in machine speech recognition, we analysed how well individuals and groups reconstructed the sentences from a syntactic (i.e., the number of errors) and semantic (i.e., the quality of the retrieved information) perspective. We show that groups perform better both on a syntactic and semantic level than even their best members. Groups made fewer errors and were able to retrieve more information when reconstructing the sentences, outcompeting even their best group members. Our study takes collective cognition studies to the more complex level of language use in humans.
Genetic consequences of breaking migratory traditions in barnacle geese Branta leucopsis
Jonker, R.M. ; Kraus, R.H.S. ; Zhang, Q. ; Hooft, W.F. van; Larsson, K. ; Jeugd, H.P. van der; Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Wieren, S.E. van; Loonen, M.J.J.E. ; Crooijmans, R.P.M.A. ; Ydenberg, R.C. ; Groenen, M.A.M. ; Prins, H.H.T. - \ 2013
Molecular Ecology 22 (2013)23. - ISSN 0962-1083 - p. 5835 - 5847.
parental care - canada geese - evolution - bird - population - differentiation - direction - connectivity - relatedness - inheritance
Cultural transmission of migratory traditions enables species to deal with their environment based on experiences from earlier generations. Also, it allows a more adequate and rapid response to rapidly changing environments. When individuals break with their migratory traditions new population structures can emerge that may affect gene flow. Recently, the migratory traditions of the Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis changed, and new populations differing in migratory distance emerged. Here, we investigate the population genetic structure of the Barnacle Goose to evaluate the consequences of altered migratory traditions. We used a set of 358 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) markers to genotype 418 individuals from breeding populations in Greenland, Spitsbergen, Russia, Sweden and the Netherlands, the latter two being newly emerged populations. We used Discriminant Analysis of Principal Components, FST , linkage disequilibrium and a comparison of gene flow models using migrate-n to show that there is significant population structure, but that relatively many pairs of SNPs are in linkage disequilibrium, suggesting recent admixture between these populations. Despite the assumed traditions of migration within populations we also show that genetic exchange occurs between all populations. The newly established non-migratory population in the Netherlands is characterized by high emigration into other populations which suggests more exploratory behaviour, possibly as a result of shortened parental care. These results suggest that migratory traditions in populations are subject to change in geese and that such changes have population genetic consequences. We argue that the emergence of non-migration likely resulted from developmental plasticity.
Accurate decisions in an uncertain world: collective cognition increases true positives while decreasing false positives
Wolf, M. ; Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Ward, A.J.W. ; Krause, S. ; Krause, J. - \ 2013
Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences 280 (2013)1756. - ISSN 0962-8452 - 9 p.
antipredator vigilance - social information - predatory attack - fish shoals - flocking - evolution - selection - flight - birds - foragers
In a wide range of contexts, including predator avoidance, medical decision-making and security screening, decision accuracy is fundamentally constrained by the trade-off between true and false positives. Increased true positives are possible only at the cost of increased false positives; conversely, decreased false positives are associated with decreased true positives. We use an integrated theoretical and experimental approach to show that a group of decision-makers can overcome this basic limitation. Using a mathematical model, we show that a simple quorum decision rule enables individuals in groups to simultaneously increase true positives and decrease false positives. The results from a predator-detection experiment that we performed with humans are in line with these predictions: (i) after observing the choices of the other group members, individuals both increase true positives and decrease false positives, (ii) this effect gets stronger as group size increases, (iii) individuals use a quorum threshold set between the average true- and false- positive rates of the other group members, and (iv) individuals adjust their quorum adaptively to the performance of the group. Our results have broad implications for our understanding of the ecology and evolution of group-living animals and lend themselves for applications in the human domain such as the design of improved screening methods in medical, forensic, security and business applications.
Contrasting context dependence of familiarity and kinship in animal social networks
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Adamczyk, M.A.P. ; Kraus, R.H.S. ; Hoffman, J.I. ; Wieren, S.E. van; Jeugd, H.P. van der; Amos, W. ; Prins, H.H.T. ; Jonker, R.M. - \ 2013
Animal Behaviour 86 (2013)5. - ISSN 0003-3472 - p. 993 - 1001.
barnacle geese - reproductive-performance - dominance hierarchies - avian personalities - decision-making - wild population - behavior - relatedness - evolution - fitness
The social structure of a population is a crucial element of an individual's environment, fundamentally influencing the transfer of genes, information and diseases. A central question in social network analysis is how different traits affect associations within populations. However, previous studies of animal social networks have typically focused on a single predictor or stage in the life cycle whereas social interactions within populations are known to be dynamic and not fixed through time and/or context. Relatively few animal network studies have explored how individual traits affect decisions across different ecologically relevant contexts. We collected detailed behavioural data (personality, dominance, familiarity) and high-resolution genetic data from a flock of 43 captive barnacle geese, Branta leucopsis, to understand how these traits affect association patterns in two different evolutionary and ecologically highly relevant contexts: foraging and mate choice. Using a novel analytical framework for node label permutations, we found that barnacle geese preferentially associated with close kin and other individuals familiar from earlier in life when foraging, but selected unfamiliar partners during mate choice. We found no effect of either personality or dominance on foraging associations or mate choice. Our study shows how using social network analysis can increase our understanding of the drivers behind population structure (in our case kin selection and inbreeding avoidance). Moreover, our study demonstrates that social networks can be largely determined by long-term processes, in particular early life familiarity.
The effect of exploration on the use of producer-scrounger tactics
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Hamblin, S. ; Giraldeau, L.A. - \ 2012
PLoS ONE 7 (2012)11. - ISSN 1932-6203
sticklebacks gasterosteus-aculeatus - guppy poecilia-reticulata - foraging group-structure - behavioral syndromes - genetic algorithms - individual specialization - fitness consequences - information-centers - social information - animal personality
Individuals foraging in groups can use two different tactics for obtaining food resources. Individuals can either search for food sources themselves (producing) or they can join food discoveries of others (scrounging). In this study we use a genetic algorithm in a spatially explicit producer-scrounger game to explore how individuals compromise between exploration (an important axis of animal personality) and scrounging and how characteristics of the environment affect this compromise. Agents varied in exploration and scrounging and a genetic algorithm searched for the optimal combination of exploration and scrounging. The foraging environments featured different levels of patch richness, predation and patch density. Our simulations show that under conditions of low patch densities slow exploring scroungers were favored whereas high patch density favored fast exploring individuals that either produced (at low patch richness) or scrounged (at high patch richness). In high predation environments fast exploring individuals were selected for but only at low to intermediate patch densities. Predation did not affect scrounging behavior. We did not find a divergence of exploration ‘types’ within a given environment, but there was a general association between exploration and scrounging across different environments: high rates of scrounging were observed over nearly the full spectrum of exploration values, whereas high rates of producing were only observed at high exploration values, suggesting that cases in which slow explorers start producing should be rare. Our results indicate that the spatial arrangement of food resources can affect the optimal social attraction rules between agents, the optimality of foraging tactic and the interaction between both.
Testosterone treatment can increase circulating carotenoids but does not affect yellow carotenoid-based plumage colour in blue tits
Peters, A. ; Roberts, M.L. ; Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Delhey, K. - \ 2012
Journal of Avian Biology 43 (2012)4. - ISSN 0908-8857 - p. 362 - 368.
superb fairy-wrens - sexual attractiveness - trade-offs - interspecific variation - plasma testosterone - structural plumage - sturnus-vulgaris - malurus-cyaneus - zebra finches - molt
A number of mechanisms are responsible for producing the variation in natural colours, and these need not act in isolation. A recent hypothesis states that carotenoid-based coloration, in addition to carotenoid availability, is also enhanced by elevated levels of circulating testosterone (T). This has only been tested for carotenoid-coloured bare parts in birds. We performed an experimental manipulation of T levels and examined the effects on the yellow carotenoid-based breast plumage in captive yearling blue tits Cyanistes caeruleus, of which half received a diet supplemented with carotenoids. T treatment resulted in elevated plasma T compared to controls and carotenoid supplementation strongly increased plasma carotenoid levels. T treatment resulted in an additional increase in plasma carotenoid levels but only in the carotenoid-supplemented males. Carotenoid supplementation resulted in more intense breast colour (carotenoid chroma), as expected. However, there was no effect of testosterone on plumage coloration at either dietary carotenoid level. Our results suggest that T can cause an increase in plasma carotenoid concentration, but that this does not necessarily lead to improved carotenoid-based plumage coloration
Boldness affects foraging decisions in barnacle geese: an experimental approach
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Nolet, B.A. ; Prins, H.H.T. ; Ydenberg, R.C. ; Oers, K. van - \ 2012
Behavioral Ecology 23 (2012)6. - ISSN 1045-2249 - p. 1155 - 1161.
social-context - body-size - herbivorous anatidae - branta-leucopsis - anser-indicus - zebra finches - goose flocks - personality - leadership - behavior
Individuals foraging in groups constantly need to make decisions, such as when to leave a group, when to join a group, and when to move collectively to another feeding site. In recent years, it has become evident that personality may affect these foraging decisions, but studies where individuals are experimentally forced into different roles are still absent. Here, we forced individual barnacle geese, Branta leucopsis, differing in boldness scores, either in a joining or in a leaving role in a feeding context. We placed a food patch at the far end of a test arena and measured the arrival latency and number of visits of individuals to the patch either in the presence of a companion that was confined near the food patch (“joining context”) or in the presence of a companion that was confined away from the food patch (“leaving context”). We also ran trials without a companion (“nonsocial context”). Bolder individuals arrived more quickly than shyer individuals in the “leaving” context, but there was no effect of boldness in the “joining” context, suggesting that boldness differences are important in explaining variation in leaving behavior but not in joining behavior. The difference in arrival latency between the “joining” and non-social context increased with decreasing boldness score, suggesting that shyer individuals are more responsive to the presence of other individuals (i.e., social facilitation). These results indicate that individual differences in boldness play a role in patch choice decisions of group-living animals, such as when to leave a flock and when to join others at a patch.
No evidence for negative frequency-dependent feeding performance in relation to personality
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Santen de Hoog, S.I. van; Wieren, S.E. van; Ydenberg, R.C. ; Prins, H.H.T. - \ 2012
Behavioral Ecology 23 (2012)1. - ISSN 1045-2249 - p. 51 - 57.
individual-differences - animal personalities - lonchura-punctulata - goose flocks - fitness consequences - avian personalities - social information - barnacle geese - captive flocks - spice finches
An increasing number of studies report the presence of consistent individual differences in behavior and/or physiology over time and context, known as animal personality. A pivotal question in animal personality research concerns the mechanism(s) responsible for its evolution and maintenance. Negative frequency–dependent selection is considered to be one of these important mechanisms, although evidence for this is largely absent. Here, we studied whether the feeding performance of barnacle geese was negative frequency-dependent in a producer–scrounger game. We studied the feeding time of one bold or one shy individual in groups consisting of only bold or shy companions to study if the rare type in the group performs best. A previous study with this species showed that scrounging increased with shyness. Hence, we expected shy individuals to do better in the presence of bold companions due to the increased scrounging opportunity and bold individuals to do better in the presence of shy companions as there were ample opportunities to produce food. We found no evidence for negative frequency–dependent feeding success; rather, we found that, independent of their boldness score, all individuals enjoyed higher feeding success when foraging with bold than with shy companions. The higher foraging success of individuals foraging with bold companions is explained by a higher joining proportion in the presence of bold companions. Our results provide no evidence for negative frequency– dependent feeding success in barnacle geese but indicate that both bold and shy individuals can increase their foraging returns by associating with bold individuals.
Rapid adaptive adjustment of parental care coincident with altered migratory behaviour
Jonker, R.M. ; Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Bilt, A. van de; Faber, M. ; Wieren, S.E. van; Prins, H.H.T. ; Ydenberg, R.C. - \ 2012
Evolutionary Ecology 26 (2012)3. - ISSN 0269-7653 - p. 657 - 667.
life-history evolution - barnacle geese - population - bird - predation - selection - meerkats
The optimal duration of parental care is shaped by the trade-off between investment in current and expected future reproductive success. A change in migratory behaviour is expected to affect the optimal duration of parental care, because migration and non-migration differ in expectations of future reproductive success as a result of differential adult and/or offspring mortality. Here we studied how a recent emergence of non-migratory behaviour has affected the duration of parental care in the previously (until the 1980s) strictly migratory Russian breeding population of the barnacle geese Branta leucopsis. As a measure of parental care, we compared the vigilance behaviour of parents and non-parents in both migratory and non-migratory barnacle geese throughout the season. We estimated the duration of parental care at 233 days for migratory and 183 days for non-migratory barnacle geese. This constitutes a shortening of the duration of parental care of 21% in 25 years. Barnacle geese are thus able to rapidly adapt their parental care behaviour to ecological conditions associated with altered migratory behaviour. Our study demonstrates that a termination of migratory behaviour resulted in a drastic reduction in parental care and highlights the importance of studying the ecological and behavioural consequences of changes in migratory behaviour and the consequences of these changes for life-history evolution
No evidence for general condition-dependence of structural plumage colour in blue tits: an experiment
Peters, A. ; Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Roberts, M.L. ; Delhey, K. - \ 2011
Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24 (2011)5. - ISSN 1010-061X - p. 976 - 987.
white-crowned sparrows - melanin-based coloration - bluebirds sialia-sialis - male uv attractiveness - parus-caeruleus - sexual selection - cyanistes-caeruleus - feather growth - satin bowerbirds - postnuptial molt
Condition-dependence is a central but contentious tenet of evolutionary theories on the maintenance of ornamental traits, and this is particularly true for structural plumage colour. By providing diets of different nutritional quality to moulting male and female blue tits, we experimentally manipulated general condition within the natural range, avoiding deprivation or stressful treatments. We measured reflectance of the structural-coloured UV/blue crown, a sexually selected trait in males, and the white cheek, a nonpigmented structural colour, directly after moult and again during the following spring mating season. We employed a variety of colour indices, based on spectral shape and avian visual models but, despite significant variation in condition and coloration, found no evidence for condition-dependence of UV/blue or white plumage colour during either season. These and previously published results suggest that structural colour might be sensitive to stress, rather than reduced body condition, during moult.
Personality in a group living species : social information, collective movements and social decision-making
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. - \ 2011
Wageningen University. Promotor(en): Herbert Prins; Ron Ydenberg, co-promotor(en): Sip van Wieren. - [S.l.] : S.n. - ISBN 9789085859840 - 132
ganzen - branta - persoonlijkheid - besluitvorming - diergedrag - foerageren - geese - branta - personality - decision making - animal behaviour - foraging

Animals need to make constant decisions throughout their lives and to make optimal decisions individuals rely on information. Information can be obtained in two distinct ways: personal or social information. The current paradigm in the information theory use in animal ecology assumes that the decision between using either personal or social information is entirely flexible and context dependent. However, the potential link between variation in personality and information use has received little attention. In this thesis I studied the effect of personality on the use of personal and social information in barnacle geese. I show that individual barnacle geese differ consistently in boldness and that boldness affects the type of information individuals use in various different contexts: In a maze solving task, a producer scrounger game and a public information experiment I found that bold individuals use less social information compared to shy individuals, providing strong evidence that the type of information individuals prefer to use depends on their boldness level. To study the ultimate causes of variation in boldness and the relationship between boldness and social information use I used an experimental and theoretical approach. In a producer scrounger experiment I tested whether the rare personality type outperformed the common personality type which could lead by means of negative frequency dependent selection to the maintenance of variation in boldness. Parallel to that I used a genetic algorithms approach to study the co-evolution of boldness and foraging tactic use in a producer scrounger game. The experimental results as well as the genetic algorithms provided no evidence for a role of negative frequency dependent selection for the maintenance of variation in boldness. Rather, our simulations suggest that differences in selection pressures in space or time (i.e., fluctuating environments) in a social foraging game may cause variation in boldness levels between populations. In our simulations bold individuals evolved to play both producer and scrounger, whereas shy individuals remained confined to scrounging, suggesting that shy individuals have difficulties when they have to collect personal information and that this might be the explanation for the increased tendency of shy individuals to use social information. I experimentally confirmed these model predictions in an experiment in which I forced individuals in either a producer or a scrounger role. Therefore, I argue that the value of social information is higher for shy individuals as compared to bold individuals since it is more costly for shy individuals to collect personal information. This thesis challenges the current paradigm that the decision between using either personal or social information is entirely context dependent. Rather, I provide evidence that personality affects the trade off between using personal and social information.

The effect of boldness on decision-making in barnacle geese is group-size-dependent
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Adamczyk, M.A.P. ; Wieren, S.E. van; Prins, H.H.T. - \ 2011
Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences 278 (2011)1714. - ISSN 0962-8452 - p. 2018 - 2024.
social information - 3-spined sticklebacks - influence leadership - zebra finches - personality - behavior - exploration - context - fish - organization
In group-living species, decisions made by individuals may result in collective behaviours. A central question in understanding collective behaviours is how individual variation in phenotype affects collective behaviours. However, how the personality of individuals affects collective decisions in groups remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated the role of boldness on the decision-making process in different-sized groups of barnacle geese. Naive barnacle geese, differing in boldness score, were introduced in a labyrinth in groups with either one or three informed demonstrators. The demonstrators possessed information about the route through the labyrinth. In pairs, the probability of choosing a route prior to the informed demonstrator increased with increasing boldness score: bolder individuals decided more often for themselves where to go compared with shyer individuals, whereas shyer individuals waited more often for the demonstrators to decide and followed this information. In groups of four individuals, however, there was no effect of boldness on decision-making, suggesting that individual differences were less important with increasing group size. Our experimental results show that personality is important in collective decisions in pairs of barnacle geese, and suggest that bolder individuals have a greater influence over the outcome of decisions in groups.
Beren, zalmen en vegetatie in Canada
Jonker, R.M. ; Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Goedbloed, D.J. ; Kraus, R.H.S. - \ 2010
De Nederlandse Jager 115 (2010)13-14. - ISSN 0166-0004 - p. 48 - 49.
No consistent female preference for higher crown UV reflectance in Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus: a mate choice experiment
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Delhey, K. ; Roberts, M.L. ; Peters, A. - \ 2010
Ibis 152 (2010)2. - ISSN 0019-1019 - p. 393 - 396.
plumage coloration - sex-ratio - ornamentation - grosbeaks - traits
Although male UV structural plumage coloration can indicate male quality (e.g. Keyser & Hill 2000) and female reproductive investment strategies (e.g. Sheldon et al. 1999, Griffith et al. 2003), unambiguous evidence that such plumage is a direct target of female choice is still lacking. A straightforward way of testing this is by conducting controlled mate choice experiments that exclude confounding factors such as male–male competition or territory quality. The first experiments on the role of structural colours in mate choice used UV-blocking windows (e.g. Bennett et al. 1996, Hunt et al. 1999), thereby completely removing male UV reflectance. A better approach is to vary UV reflectance within the natural range under natural light conditions. Only two such mate choice experiments have been undertaken to date (Ballentine & Hill 2003, Liu et al. 2007). In neither study did females show a preference for more UV-ornamented males. In the present study, we manipulated crown reflectance of first-year male Blue Tits Cyanistes caeruleus to test the hypothesis that females prefer males with a higher crown UV reflectance, as predicted by patterns of sex allocation, paternity and female parental investment in this species (Johnsen et al. 2005, Delhey et al. 2007a,b). In a mate choice experiment, females were offered a choice of two males (matched for yellow breast colour), one with a UV-reduced crown reflectance and one control-manipulated male. The results indicated that female preference was inconsistent and may be context-dependent
Personality predicts the use of social information
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Oers, K. van; Nolet, B.A. ; Jonker, R.M. ; Wieren, S.E. van; Prins, H.H.T. ; Ydenberg, R.C. - \ 2010
Ecology Letters 13 (2010)7. - ISSN 1461-023X - p. 829 - 837.
public information - great tits - individual-differences - barnacle geese - 3-spined sticklebacks - animal personalities - exploratory-behavior - scrounging behavior - avian personalities - zebra finches
The use of social information is known to affect various important aspects of an individual's ecology, such as foraging, dispersal and space use and is generally assumed to be entirely flexible and context dependent. However, the potential link between personality differences and social information use has received little attention. In this study, we studied whether use of social information was related to personality, using barnacle geese, Branta leucopsis, where boldness is a personality trait known to be consistent over time. We found that the use of social information decreased with increasing boldness score of the individuals. Individuals had lower feeding times when they did not follow the social information and this effect was unrelated to boldness score. When manipulating social information, thereby making it incorrect, individuals irrespective of their boldness score, learned that it was incorrect and ignored it. Our results show that social information use depends on the personality type of an individual, which calls for incorporation of these personality-related differences in studies of spatial distribution of animals in which social information use plays a role
Foraging and public information use in common pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus): a field experiment
Jonker, M.N. ; Boer, W.F. de; Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Dekker, J.J.A. - \ 2010
Acta Chiropterologica 12 (2010)1. - ISSN 1508-1109 - p. 197 - 203.
echolocation calls - vespertilionidae - behavior - sticklebacks - chiroptera - starlings - patterns
Decision making by animals is likely to be influenced strongly by the behaviour of conspecifics. In this study we tested whether public information affected the foraging behaviour of common pipistrelles (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) by manipulating public information about the quality of foraging patches. Capture attempts during foraging are revealed by terminal buzzes, which are a potential source of public information about prey abundance for other foraging bats. We tested whether the estimation of food patch quality was affected by the number of terminal buzzes emitted by conspecifics. We conducted an experiment at 12 different locations in an urban habitat in the Netherlands. At each location we played back recordings of echolocation sounds of hunting bats with different terminal buzz rates and scored the bat activity. No significant differences between treatments were found. Our results do not support the hypothesis that bat activity increases in response to an increase in simulated terminal buzzes, suggesting that public information does not influence the choice of foraging patches in P. pipistrellus. We propose that P. pipistrellus does not use this kind of information because of either the high reliability of personal information or of the low collection costs associated with personal information.
The effect of personality on social foraging: shy barnacle geese scrounge more
Kurvers, R.H.J.M. ; Prins, H.H.T. ; Wieren, S.E. van; Oers, K. van; Nolet, B.A. ; Ydenberg, R.C. - \ 2010
Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences 277 (2010)1681. - ISSN 0962-8452 - p. 601 - 608.
sticklebacks gasterosteus-aculeatus - zebra finches - animal personalities - great tits - individual-differences - fitness consequences - behavioral syndromes - avian personalities - energy reserves - dominance
Animals foraging in groups can either search for food themselves (producing) or search for the food discoveries of other individuals (scrounging). Tactic use in producer–scrounger games is partly flexible but individuals tend to show consistency in tactic use under different conditions suggesting that personality might play a role in tactic use in producer–scrounger games. Here we studied the use of producing and scrounging tactics by bold and shy barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis), where boldness is a personality trait known to be repeatable over time in this species. We defined individuals as bold, shy or intermediate based on two novel object tests. We scored the frequency of finding food patches (the outcome of investing in producing) and joining patches (the outcome of investing in scrounging) by bold and shy individuals and their feeding time. Shy individuals had a higher frequency of joining than bold individuals, demonstrating for the first time that personality is associated with tactic use in a producer–scrounger game. Bold individuals tended to spend more time feeding than shy individuals. Our results highlight the importance of including individual behavioural variation in models of producer–scrounger games
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