Inspection of mob-calls as sources of predator information: response of migrant and resident birds in the Neotropics

  • Joseph J. Nocera
  • Philip D. Taylor
  • Laurene M. Ratcliffe
Original Paper

Abstract

Migrating animals face numerous mortality risks, such as novel predators with which they may not be accustomed. Most animals can recognize predators innately; however, additional predator information can be collected to enhance familiarity. Because migrating birds rarely participate in mobs, they may seek alternative information sources such as cues provided by other birds that can provide information on predator location, identity, and degree of threat. We predicted that Nearctic–Neotropical migrants (hereafter, “migrants”) would react to vocal antipredator cues (e.g., mob-calls) of species residing in areas through which they migrate. To test this, we conducted experiments in Belize during spring migration, using playbacks of mob-calls of black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and blue-gray tanagers (Thraupis episcopus); tanagers are familiar to all birds in Belize; chickadees are novel to residents but familiar to migrants. This also allowed us to assess response to novel and out-of-context antipredator signals. Resident birds did not respond to novel chickadee mob-calls, but did respond to familiar tanager calls. Birds overwintering south of our study area, which were migrating during our study, responded most strongly to chickadee playbacks. Conversely, individuals of species that include our study area in their winter range did not respond to either playback. This is the first evidence that birds react to vocal antipredator cues during migration, which may be a strategy used by migrants to learn about predators. Although residents failed to recognize a foreign cue, migrating birds responded most strongly to the out-of-context chickadee cue, associated with breeding grounds >2,000 km northward.

Keywords

Antipredator behavior Migration Mobbing Playbacks Predator recognition 

Supplementary material

265_2008_605_MOESM1_ESM.doc (67 kb)
S1Numbers and migrant status of all migratory bird species captured during passive mist-netting or detected at playbacks black-capped chickadee mob-calls, blue-gray tanager mob-calls, static, or no sound at all in Belize, Central America (DOC 67 KB)
265_2008_605_MOESM2_ESM.doc (109 kb)
S2Numbers of all resident bird species captured during passive mist-netting or detected at playbacks black-capped chickadee mob-calls, blue-gray tanager mob-calls, static, or no sound at all in Belize, Central America (DOC 107 KB)

References

  1. Belisle M, Desrochers A (2002) Gap-crossing decisions by forest birds: an empirical basis for parameterizing spatially-explicit, individual-based models. Landsc Ecol 17:219–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Betts MG, Hadley AS, Doran PJ (2005) Avian mobbing response is restricted by territory boundaries: experimental evidence from two species of forest warblers. Ethology 111:821–835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boback SM (2005) Natural history and conservation of island boas (Boa constrictor) in Belize. Copeia 4:880–885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brawn JD, Collins TM, Medina M, Bermingham E (1996) Associations between physical isolation and geographical variation within three species of Neotropical birds. Mol Ecol 5:33–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown GE (2003) Learning about danger: chemical alarm cues and local risk assessment in prey fishes. Fish Fish 4:227–234Google Scholar
  6. Caro TM (2005) Antipredator defenses in birds and mammals. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  7. Chinchilla FA (1997) Diets of Panthera onca, Felis concolor and Felis pardalis (Carnivora: Felidae) in Parque Nacional Corcovado, Costa Rica. Rev Biol Trop 45:1223–1229Google Scholar
  8. Chivers DP, Smith RJF (1994) Fathead minnows, Pimephales promelas, acquire predator recognition when alarm substance is associated with the sight of unfamiliar fish. Anim Behav 48:597–605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Conover MR (1987) Acquisition of predator information by active and passive mobbers in ring-billed gull colonies. Behaviour 102:41–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Curio E (1978) The adaptive significance of mobbing. I. Teleonomic hypotheses and predictions. Z Tierpsychol 48:175–183Google Scholar
  11. Danchin E, Giraldeau LA, Valone TJ, Wagner RH (2004) Public information: from nosy neighbors to cultural evolution. Science 305:487–491PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. DaSilva JMC, Uhl C, Murray G (1996) Plant succession, landscape management, and the ecology of frugivorous birds in abandoned Amazonian pastures. Conserv Biol 10:491–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Deecke VB, Slater PJB, Ford JKB (2002) Selective habituation shapes acoustic predator recognition in harbour seals. Nature 420:171–173PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dierschke V, Delingat J (2001) Stopover behaviour and departure decision of northern wheatears, Oenanthe oenanthe, facing different onward non-stop flight distances. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 50:535–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dolby AS, Grubb TC (1998) Benefits to satellite members in mixed-species foraging groups: an experimental analysis. Anim Behav 56:501–509PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Drent R, Both C, Green M, Madsen J, Piersma T (2003) Pay-offs and penalties of competing migratory schedules. Oikos 103:274–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dugatkin LA, Godin JGJ (1992) Prey approaching predators: a cost–benefit perspective. Ann Zool Fenn 29:233–252Google Scholar
  18. Edelaar P, Wright J (2006) Potential prey make excellent ornithologists: adaptive, flexible responses towards avian predation threat by Arabian Babblers Turdoides squamiceps living at a migratory hotspot. Ibis 148:664–671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ficken MS, Ficken RW, Witkin SR (1978) Vocal repertoire of the black-capped Chickadee. Auk 95:34–48Google Scholar
  20. Fitzgibbon CD (1994) The costs and benefits of predator inspection behavior in Thomson gazelles. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 34:139–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Godin JGJ, Davis SA (1995) Who dares, benefits—predator approach behavior in the guppy (Poecilia reticulata) deters predator pursuit. Proc R Soc Lond B 259:193–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Halupka K, Halupka L (1997) The influence of reproductive season stage on nest defence by meadow pipits (Anthus pratensis). Ethol Ecol Evol 9:89–98Google Scholar
  23. Hames RS, Lowe JD, Barker Swarthout S, Rosenberg KV (2006) Understanding the risk to neotropical migrant bird species of multiple human-caused stressors: elucidating processes behind the patterns. Ecol Soc 11, article 24 [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol11/iss1/art24/
  24. Hilty S (1994) Birds of tropical America. University of Texas Press, AustinGoogle Scholar
  25. Hurd CR (1996) Interspecific attraction to the mobbing calls of black-capped chickadees (Parus atricapillus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 38:287–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ishihara M (1987) Effect of mobbing toward predators by the damselfish Pomacentrus coelestis (Pisces, Pomacentridae). J Ethol 5:43–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jones HL (2003) Birds of Belize. University of Texas Press, AustinGoogle Scholar
  28. Johnson FR, McNaughton EJ, Shelley CD, Blumstein DT (2003) Mechanisms of heterospecific recognition in avian mobbing calls. Aust J Zool 51:577–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Krams I, Krama T (2002) Interspecific reciprocity explains mobbing behaviour of the breeding chaffinches, Fringilla coelebs. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:2345–2350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Langham GM, Contreras TA, Sieving KE (2006) Why pishing works: Titmouse (Paridae) scolds elicit a generalized response in bird communities. Ecoscience 13:485–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Latta SC, Wunderle JM (1996) The composition and foraging ecology of mixed-species flocks in pine forests of Hispaniola. Condor 98:595–607CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Leal M, Rodriguez-Robles JA (1997) Signalling displays during predator–prey interactions in a Puerto Rican anole, Anolis cristatellus. Anim Behav 54:1147–1154PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lind J, Cresswell W (2005) Determining the fitness consequences of antipredation behavior. Behav Ecol 16:945–956CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lind J, Cresswell W (2006) Anti-predation behaviour during bird migration; the benefit of studying multiple behavioural dimensions. J Ornithol 147:310–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lind J, Jöngren F, Nilsson J, Alm DS, Strandmark A (2005) Information, predation risk and foraging decisions during mobbing in Great Tits Parus major. Ornis Fenn 82:89–96Google Scholar
  36. Losito MP, Mirarchi RE, Baldassarre GA (1989) New techniques for time–activity studies of avian flocks in view-restricted habitats. J Field Ornithol 60:388–396Google Scholar
  37. Manomet Observatory for Conservation Sciences (1996) Impacts of silvicultural trials on birds and tree regeneration in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Belize. Supplement: birds banded and saplings tagged. Report to Ministry of Natural Resources, Belmopan, BelizeGoogle Scholar
  38. Marler P (1957) Specific distinctiveness in the communication signals of birds. Behaviour 11:13–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mathis A, Chivers DP, Smith RJF (1996) Cultural transmission of predator recognition in fishes: intraspecific and interspecific learning. Anim Behav 51:185–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McLean IG, Rhodes G (1991) Enemy recognition and response in birds. Curr Ornithol 8:173–211Google Scholar
  41. Mettke-Hofmann C, Gwinner E (2004) Differential assessment of environmental information in a migratory and a nonmigratory passerine. Anim Behav 68:1079–1086CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Owings DH, Coss RG (1977) Snake mobbing by California ground squirrels—adaptive variation and ontogeny. Behaviour 62:50–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Pijanowska J (1997) Alarm signals in Daphnia? Oecologia 112:12–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pyle P (1997) Identification guide to North American birds, part 1. Slate Creek, BolinasGoogle Scholar
  45. R Development Core Team (2006) R: a language environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, ViennaGoogle Scholar
  46. Shedd DH (1982) Seasonal variation and function of mobbing and related antipredator behaviors of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius). Auk 99:342–346Google Scholar
  47. Sieving KE, Contreras TA, Maute KL (2004) Heterospecific facilitation of forest-boundary crossing by mobbing understory birds in North–Central Florida. Auk 121:738–751CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Slusarczyk M, Rygielska E (2004) Fish faeces as the primary source of chemical cues inducing fish avoidance diapause in Daphnia magna. Hydrobiologia 526:231–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Smith SM (1993) Black-capped chickadee (Parus atricapillus). In: Poole A, Gill F (eds) The birds of North America, no 39. The Birds of North America, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  50. Srivastava A (1991) Cultural transmission of snake-mobbing in free-ranging Hanuman langurs. Folia Primatol 56:117–120PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stutchbury BJM, Morton ES (2001) Behavioral ecology of tropical birds. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  52. Templeton CN, Greene E (2007) Nuthatches eavesdrop on variations in heterospecific chickadee mobbing alarm calls. Proc Nat Acad Sci 104:5479–5482PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Templeton CN, Greene E, Davis K (2005) Allometry of alarm calls: black-capped chickadees encode information about predator size. Science 308:1934–1937PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tikkanen P, Muotka T, Huhta A (1996) Fishless-stream mayflies express behavioural flexibility in response to predatory fish. Anim Behav 51:1391–1399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Turcotte Y, Desrochers A (2002) Playbacks of mobbing calls of black-capped chickadees help estimate the abundance of forest birds in winter. J Field Ornithol 73:303–307Google Scholar
  56. Veen T, Richardson DS, Blaakmeer K, Komdeur J (2000) Experimental evidence for innate predator recognition in the Seychelles warbler. Proc R Soc Lond B 267:2253–2258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Winn HE (1960) Biology of the brook stickleback Eucalia inconstans (Kirtland). Am Midl Nat 63:424–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph J. Nocera
    • 1
  • Philip D. Taylor
    • 2
  • Laurene M. Ratcliffe
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Atlantic Cooperative Wildlife Ecology Research Network, Department of BiologyAcadia UniversityWolfvilleCanada

Personalised recommendations