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What limits predator detection in blue tits (Parus caeruleus): posture, task or orientation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
2003 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, ISSN 0340-5443, E-ISSN 1432-0762, Vol. 54, no 6, 534-538 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To detect threats and reduce predation risk prey animals need to be alert. Early predator detection and rapid anti-predatory action increase the likelihood of survival. We investigated how foraging affects predator detection and time to take-off in blue tits (Parus caeruleus) by subjecting them to a simulated raptor attack. To investigate the impact of body posture we compared birds feeding head-down with birds feeding head-up, but could not find any effect of posture on either time to detection or time to take-off. To investigate the impact of orientation we compared birds having their side towards the attacking predator with birds having their back towards it. Predator detection, but not time to take-off, was delayed when the back was oriented towards the predator. We also investigated the impact of foraging task by comparing birds that were either not foraging, foraging on chopped mealworms, or foraging on whole ones. Foraging on chopped mealworms did not delay detection compared to nonforaging showing that foraging does not always restrict vigilance. However, detection was delayed more than 150% when the birds were foraging on whole, live mealworms, which apparently demanded much attention and handling skill. Time to take-off was affected by foraging task in the same way as detection was. We show that when studying foraging and vigilance one must include the difficulty of the foraging task and prey orientation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 54, no 6, 534-538 p.
National Category
Zoology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-24587DOI: 10.1007/s00265-003-0665-5OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-24587DiVA: diva2:197842
Available from: 2005-11-02 Created: 2005-11-02 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Attacking predators and fleeing prey: detection, escape and targeting behaviour in birds
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Attacking predators and fleeing prey: detection, escape and targeting behaviour in birds
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to further our understanding of predator and prey behaviour and decision making in different attack situations. The thesis deals with escape strategies, predator detection ability and prey targeting behaviour. Thus the thesis includes several aspects of a predation event and it includes studies both on prey animals and predators. In the first paper we show that blue tits (Parus caeruleus), a small passerine bird, are highly flexible in their escape behaviour and adjust their escape to the detailed behaviour of an attacking predator. The predator’s attack height influenced the blue tits’ ascent angles whereas attack speed influenced the lateral course of the flight. These escape responses might reflect a turning gambit between prey and predator. To adjust escape behaviour might therefore be very important for survival. Our result from the second paper suggests that the evolution of flexible escape behaviour is influenced by habitat and life style. We found that open living bird species adjusted their escape behaviour to the behaviour of a predator to a higher degree than skulky, cover living bird species did. The third paper deals with how different aspects of foraging influence blue tits’ ability to detect predators and time till take-off. Detection ability in prey can heavily affect their likelihood to escape successfully. The body posture of the blue tits (head-up or head-down) did not affect their detection ability whereas their orientation did; detection was delayed when the attack came from behind. Foraging behaviour is often assumed to delay predator detection but we could not find any negative effect of an easy foraging task. A difficult task, on the other hand, severely delayed detection of the predator and time to take-off. In the last paper we investigate if sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) hunting opportunistically can discriminate between prey birds on the basis of vigilance state and preferentially target foraging birds for attack. The sparrowhawks showed no preference for foraging prey which is in contrast to predators which inspect their prey before attack. Thus our results suggest that predators may only have time to discriminate between individuals on the basis of vigilance state when stalking.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Zoologiska institutionen, 2005
Keyword
zoology, ethology, birds, animal behaviour
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-720 (URN)91-7155-135-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-12-16, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Available from: 2005-11-02 Created: 2005-11-02Bibliographically approved

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