Anti-predator behavior is a key aspect of life history evolution, usually studied at the population (mean), or across-individual levels. However individuals can also differ in their intra-individual (residual) variation, but to our knowledge, this has only been studied once before in free-living animals. Here we studied the distances moved and changes in nest height and concealment between successive nesting attempts of marked pairs of grey fantails (Rhipidura albiscapa) in relation to nest fate, across the breeding season. We predicted that females (gender that decides where the nest is placed) should on average show adaptive behavioral responses to the experience of prior predation risk such that after an unsuccessful nesting attempt, replacement nests should be further away, higher from the ground, and more concealed compared with replacement nests after successful nesting attempts. We found that, on average, females moved greater distances to re-nest after unsuccessful nesting attempts (abandoned or depredated) in contrast to after a successful attempt, suggesting that re-nesting decisions are sensitive to risk. We found no consistent across-individual differences in distances moved, heights, or concealment. However, females differed by 53-fold (or more) in their intra-individual variability (i.e., predictability) with respect to distances moved and changes in nest height between nesting attempts, indicating that either some systematic variation went unexplained and/or females have inherently different predictability. Ignoring these individual differences in residual variance in our models obscured the effect of nest fate on re-nesting decisions that were evident at the mean level.
Nest desertion Nest depredation Nest site selection Personality Renest Plasticity
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
This work was supported by an Alfred Deakin Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to CB, an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to PB, and a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada research grant to KM. J Hightower and C Jordan helped with field work. We thank the rangers at Mt. Buffalo National Park for logistical support.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
Burhans DE, Frank RT III (1998) Effects of time and nest-site characteristics on concealment of songbird nests. Condor 100:663–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cleasby I, Nakagawa S (2011) Neglected biological patterns in the residuals. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 65:2361–2372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cleasby IR, Nakagawa S, Schielzeth H (2015) Quantifying the predictability of behaviour: statistical approaches for the study of between-individual variation in the within-individual variance. Methods Ecol Evol 6:27–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Collias NE, Collias EC (1984) Nest building and bird behavior. Princeton University Press Princeton, NJCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Colombelli-Négrel D, Kleindorfer S (2009) Nest height, nest concealment, and predator type predict nest predation in superb fairy-wrens (Malurus cyaneus). Ecol Res 24:921–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dingemanse NJ, Both C, Drent PJ, van Oers K, Van Noordwijk AJ (2002) Repeatability and heritability of exploratory behaviour in great tits from the wild. Anim Behav 64:929–938CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dohm MR (2002) Repeatability estimates do not always set an upper limit to heritability. Funct Ecol 16:273–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gavin TA, Bollinger EK (1988) Reproductive correlates of breeding-site fidelity in Bobolinks (Dolichonyx oryzivorus). Ecology 69:96–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Götmark F, Blomqvist D, Olof CJ, Bergkvist J (1995) Nest site selection: a trade-off between concealment and view of the surroundings? J Avian Biol 26:305–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Graham DS (1988) Responses of five host species to cowbird parasitism. Condor 90:588–591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Greig‐Smith P (1982) Weight differences, brood reduction, and sibling competition among nestling stonechats Saxicola torquata (Aves: Turdidae). J Zool 205:453–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grzybowski JA, Pease CM, Brittingham M (2005) Renesting determines seasonal fecundity in songbirds: What do we know? What should we assume? Auk 122:280–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haas CA (1998) Effects of prior nesting success on site fidelity and breeding dispersal: an experimental approach. Auk 115:929–936Google Scholar
Higgins S, Peter P, Cowling J (2006) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. vol. 7: Part B, boatbills to starlings. In: Á Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
Howlett JS, Stutchbury BJM (1997) Within-season dispersal, nest-site modification, and predation in renesting hooded warblers. Wilson Bull 109:643–649Google Scholar
Institute S (2010) User’s guide. Version 9.2, vol 1. SAS Institute, CaryGoogle Scholar
Lima SL (1998) Stress and decision-making under the risk of predation: recent developments from behavioral, reproductive, and ecological perspectives. Adv Study Behav 27:215–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Littell RC, Milliken G, Stroup W, Wolfinger R, Schabenberger O (2006) SAS for mixed models, 2nd edn. SAS Press, CaryGoogle Scholar
Maddox JD, Weatherhead PJ, Yasukawa K (2006) Nests without eggs: abandonment or cryptic predation? Auk 123:135–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Major RE, Gowing G, Kendal CE (1996) Nest predation in Australian urban environments and the role of the pied currawong, Strepera graculina. Aust J Ecol 21:399–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marjakangas A, Valkeajärvi P, Ijäs L (1997) Female black grouseTetrao tetrix shift nest site after nest loss. J Ornithol 138:111–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martin TE, Roper JJ (1988) Nest predation and nest-site selection of a western population of the hermit thrush. Condor 90:51–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marzluff JM (1988) Do pinyon jays alter nest placement based on prior experience? Anim Behav 36:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McKibbin R, Bishop CA (2014) Multiple broods and nest success in western yellow-breasted chats (Icteria virens auricollis) in the south Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada. Wilson J Ornithol 126:767–771CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Munro K (2007) Breeding behaviour and ecology of the grey fantail (Rhipidura albiscapa). Aust J Zool 55:257–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nelson KJ, Martin K (1999) Thermal aspects of nest-site location for vesper sparrows and horned larks in British Columbia. Stud Avian Biol 19:137–143Google Scholar
Nolan VJ (1978) The ecology and behavior of the prairie warbler Dendroica discolor. Ornithol Monogr 26:1–595Google Scholar
Quinn JL, Cresswell W (2005) Personality, anti-predation behaviour and behavioural plasticity in the chaffinch Fringilla coelebs. Behaviour 142:1377–1402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reznick DA, Bryga H, Endler JA (1990) Experimentally induced life-history evolution in a natural population. Nature 346:357–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ricklefs RE (1969) An analysis of nesting mortality in birds. Smithson Contrib Zool 9:1–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ronnegard L, Felleki M, Fikse F, Mulder H, Strandberg E (2010) Genetic heterogeneity of residual variance - estimation of variance components using double hierarchical generalized linear models. Genet Sel Evol 42:8–15PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Skutch AF (1985) Clutch size, nesting success, and predation on nests of neotropical birds, reviewed. Ornithol Monogr 36:575–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stamps JA, Briffa M, Biro PA (2012) Unpredictable animals: individual differences in intraindividual variability (IIV). Anim Behav 83:1325–1334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Oers K, Drent PJ, de Goede P, van Noordwijk AJ (2004) Realized heritability and repeatability of risk-taking behaviour in relation to avian personalities. Proc R Soc Lond B 271:65–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar