The influence of social-grouping on territorial defense behavior in the black-crested titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus)

Mirjam J. Borger*, Lauren E. Johnson, Nathaly O. Salazar, Cameron L. Dreghorn, Jan Komdeur, Troy G. Murphy

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

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Status signals have evolved for individuals to avoid energetic and physical costs of resource defense. These signals reflect an individual’s competitive ability and therefore influence competitors’ decisions on how to invest in a fight. We hypothesized that the response of receivers to status signals will depend on the social context. During territorial defense, group members may provide support to a territory owner by participating in defense. We investigated whether the presence of juveniles—who group together with territorial males—alters the territorial male’s attack decisions and level of aggression in the black-crested titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus). Crest-length in this species functions as status signal. We simultaneously presented two taxidermic male models in a territory: one with an unmanipulated crest and one with a modified shortened crest. Models were presented to males that had resident juveniles cohabiting on their territory, and to males without juveniles. During intrusions, juveniles actively defended against the simulated intruders by approaching and sometimes attacking. The presence of juveniles affected how territorial males responded to the status signals of the intruders: when juveniles were present, males were more likely to first attack the model with the unmanipulated crest (i.e., longer, and more threatening), compared to males residing without juveniles. This suggests that juvenile support alters the risk-taking decision of the territorial male. To our knowledge, this is the first indication that behavioral responses to a status signal depends on the presence of supportive group members.
Originele taal-2English
TijdschriftBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
StatusPublished - 3-nov-2020

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