Reciprocity is fundamental to cooperative behaviour and has been verified in theoretical models. However, there is still limited experimental evidence for reciprocity in non-primate species. Our results more decisively clarify that reciprocity with a tit-for-tat enforcement strategy can occur among breeding pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca separate from considerations of byproduct mutualism. Breeding pairs living in close proximity (20-24 m) did exhibit byproduct mutualism and always assisted in mobbing regardless of their neighbours' prior actions. However, breeding pairs with distant neighbours (69-84 m) either assisted or refused to assist in mobbing a predatory owl based on whether or not the distant pair had previously helped them in their own nest defense against the predator. Clearly, these birds are aware of their specific spatial security context, remember their neighbours' prior behaviour, and choose a situation-specific strategic course of action, which could promote their longer-term security, a capacity previously thought unique to primates.
2012. Vol. 2, 800- p.