Advertisement

Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 160, Issue 1, pp 117–126 | Cite as

Social structure of Coal Tits Periparus ater in temperate deciduous forest

  • Richard K. BroughtonEmail author
  • Marta Maziarz
  • Shelley A. Hinsley
Original Article

Abstract

Analysis of the impacts of social structure on the behaviour and life history of birds is a rapidly developing area of ornithology. Such studies commonly focus on the Paridae (tits and chickadees) as a model group, but detailed assessment of the basic social structure is lacking for many parids, particularly in the non-breeding season. Such baseline information is essential for understanding the organisation of bird populations, including associations between individuals within social and spatial networks. We assessed the non-breeding (autumn–winter) social structure and that during spring (i.e. the breeding season) for Coal Tits Periparus ater in broadleaved forest in southern Britain. Coal Tits were found to be resident and sedentary in this habitat, with birds remaining close to their spring territories during the non-breeding season and associating in small groups averaging 3–4 individuals. Associations were variable, however, with no evidence of stable flock membership, group territoriality or strong pair bonds during autumn–winter. The non-breeding social structure during a year of high population density did not differ from that during a year of low population density, being most similar to a ‘basic flock’ organisation. This contrasted with that predicted for a food-hoarding parid, highlighting the potential differences in social behaviour between different populations of bird species. Such variation in social behaviour can inform our understanding of the evolution of avian social structures and associated behavioural traits, such as food hoarding, and aid the interpretation of intra- and interspecific differences in behaviour.

Keywords

Social organisation Flocking Territory Broadleaved Woodland Birds 

Zusammenfassung

Soziale Struktur bei Tannenmeisen Periparus ater im Laubwald der gemäßigten Breiten

Die Erforschung der Auswirkungen der Sozialstruktur auf das Verhalten und die Biologie von Vogelarten ist ein sich rasch entwickelndes Teilgebiet der Ornithologie. Gemeinhin konzentrieren sich solche Studien auf die Meisen (Paridae) als Modellgruppe, für viele Meisenarten fehlt aber noch eine detaillierte Darstellung der grundlegenden Sozialstruktur, speziell außerhalb der Brutzeit. Solche elementaren Daten sind für ein Verständnis der Organisation von Vogelpopulationen – unter anderem der Beziehungen zwischen Individuen innerhalb sozialer und räumlicher Netzwerke – von entscheidender Bedeutung. Wir betrachteten die Sozialstruktur von Tannenmeisen Periparus ater in Laubwäldern des südlichen Großbritanniens, jeweils zur Brutzeit (Frühjahr) beziehungsweise außerhalb der Brutzeit (Herbst/Winter). Die Tannenmeisen erwiesen sich als ortstreu und ganzjährig an ihr Habitat gebunden; die Vögel blieben auch außerhalb der Brutzeit in der Nähe ihrer Frühjahrsreviere und bildeten kleine Gruppen von im Schnitt drei bis vier Individuen. Deren Zusammensetzung variierte jedoch und wir fanden keinerlei Hinweise auf eine feste Schwarmzugehörigkeit, Gruppenterritorialität oder eine starke Paarbindung während der Herbst- und Wintermonate. Außerhalb der Brutzeit gab es keine Unterschiede in der Sozialstruktur zwischen Jahren mit hoher beziehungsweise niedriger Populationsdichte, sondern diese ließ sich am besten als „Kernschwarm“-Verband beschreiben. Dies stellt eine Abweichung zu dem erwarteten Bild einer Vorräte anlegenden Meisenart dar und steht im Widerspruch zu einigen früheren Klassifikationen, was die potenzielle Plastizität des Sozialverhaltens zwischen Vogelpopulationen unterstreicht. Eine derartige Variation kann zum Verständnis der Evolution sozialer Strukturen sowie der damit zusammenhängenden Verhaltensweisen (wie beispielsweise dem Anlegen von Vorratsverstecken) bei Vögeln beitragen und für die Deutung inner- und zwischenartlicher Verhaltensunterschiede hilfreich sein.

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Natural England for access to Monks Wood. This work was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.

References

  1. Alatalo RV, Gustafsson L, Lindén M, Lundberg A (1985) Interspecific competition and niche shifts in tits and the gold crest: an experiment. J Anim Ecol 54:977–984CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alerstam T, Nilsson SG, Ulfstrand S (1974) Niche differentiation during winter in woodland birds in southern Sweden and the island of Gotland. Oikos 25:321–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aplin LM, Farine DR, Morand-Ferron J, Sheldon BC (2012) Social networks predict patch discovery in a wild population of songbirds. Proc R Soc Lond B 279:4199–4205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barg JJ, Jones J, Robertson RJ (2005) Describing breeding territories of migratory passerines: suggestions for sampling, choice of estimator and delineation of core areas. J Anim Ecol 74:139–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bejder L, Fletcher D, Bräger S (1998) A method for testing association patterns of social animals. Anim Behav 56:719–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bibby CJ, Burgess ND, Hill DA, Mustoe S (2000) Bird census techniques. Academic, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Brotons L (2000) Winter spacing and non-breeding social system of the Coal Tit Parus ater in a subalpine forest. Ibis 142:657–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brotons L, Herrando S (2003) Effect of increased food abundance near forest edges on flocking patterns of Coal Tit Parus ater winter groups in mountain coniferous forests. Bird Study 50:106–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Broughton RK, Bellamy PE, Hill RA, Hinsley SA (2014) Winter habitat selection by Marsh Tits Poecile palustris in a British woodland. Bird Study 61:404–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Broughton RK, Bellamy PE, Hill RA, Hinsley SA (2015) Winter social organisation of Marsh Tits Poecile palustris in Britain. Acta Orn 50:11–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cramp S, Perrins CM (eds) (1993) The birds of the Western Palearctic, vol VII. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Croft DP, Darden SK, Wey TW (2016) Current directions in animal social networks. Curr Opin Behav Sci 12:52–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Desrochers A, Hannon SJ (1989) Site-related dominance and spacing among winter flocks of black-capped chickadees. Condor 91:317–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dhondt A (2007) What drives differences between North American and Eurasian tit studies? In: Otter KA (ed) The ecology and behavior of chickadees and titmice: an integrated approach. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 299–310Google Scholar
  15. Eguchi K (2014) Life history and the evolution of social organization in birds. Jpn J Ornithol 63:249–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ekman J (1989) Ecology of non-breeding social systems of Parus. Wilson Bull 101:263–288Google Scholar
  17. Emery NJ, Seed AM, von Bayern AMP, Clayton NS (2007) Cognitive adaptations of social bonding in birds. Philos Trans R Soc B 362:489–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Farine DR, Lang SDJ (2013) The early bird gets the worm: foraging strategies of wild songbirds lead to the early discovery of food sources. Biol Lett 9:20130578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Farine DR, Garroway CJ, Sheldon BC (2012) Social network analysis of mixed-species flocks: exploring the structure and evolution of interspecific social behaviour. Anim Behav 84:1271–1277Google Scholar
  20. Farine DR, Firth JA, Aplin LM, Crates RA, Culina A, Garroway CJ, Hinde CA, Kidd LR, Milligan ND, Psorakis I, Radersma R, Verhelst B, Voelkl B, Sheldon BC (2015a) The role of social and ecological processes in structuring animal populations: a case study from automated tracking of wild birds. R Soc Open Sci 2:150057CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Farine DR, Aplin LM, Sheldon BC, Hoppitt W (2015b) Interspecific social networks promote information transmission in wild songbirds. Proc R Soc Lond B 282:20142804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ficken MS, Witkin SR, Weise CM (1981) Associations among members of a Black-capped Chickadee flock. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 8:245–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Firth JA, Sheldon BC (2016) Social carry-over effects underpin trans-seasonally linked structure in a wild bird population. Ecol Lett 19:1324–1332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Franks DW, Ruxton GD, James R (2010) Sampling animal association networks with the gambit of the group. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 64:493–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. King JR, Griffiths R (1994) Sexual dimorphism of plumage and morphology in the Coal Tit Parus ater. Bird Study 41:7–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lens L, Dhondt AA (1992) Variation in coherence of crested tit winter flocks: an example of multivariate optimization. Acta Oecol 13:553–567Google Scholar
  27. Löhrl H (1974) Die Tannenmeise. A. Ziemsen Verlag, Wittenberg LutherstadtGoogle Scholar
  28. Manly BFJ (1995) A note on the analysis of species co-occurrences. Ecology 76:1109–1115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Matthysen E (1990) Nonbreeding social organization in Parus. Curr Ornithol 7:209–249Google Scholar
  30. Nakamura T (1975) A study of Paridae community in Japan. III. Ecological separation and distribution. Misc Rep Yamash Inst Ornithol 7:603–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Newman MEJ (2004) Analysis of weighted networks. Phys Rev E 70:056131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Newman MEJ (2006) Modularity and community structure in networks. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:8577–8582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nilsson J-Å, Smith HG (1988) Effects of dispersal date on winter flock establishment and social dominance in Marsh Tits Parus palustris. J Anim Ecol 57:917–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Perrins CM (1979) British tits. Collins, LondonGoogle Scholar
  35. Psorakis I, Voelkl B, Garroway CJ, Radersma R, Aplin LM, Crates RA, Culina A, Farine DR, Firth JA, Hinde CA, Kidd LR, Milligan ND, Roberts SJ, Verhelst B, Sheldon BC (2015) Inferring social structure from temporal data. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 69:857–866CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Smith DC, Van Buskirk J (1988) Winter territoriality and flock cohesion in the black-capped chickadee Parus atricapillus. Anim Behav 36:466–476Google Scholar
  37. Smulders TV (1998) A game theoretical model of the evolution of food hoarding: applications to the Paridae. Am Nat 151:356–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wernham C, Toms M, Marchant J, Clarke J, Siriwardena G, Baillie S (2002) The migration atlas: movements of the birds of Britain and Ireland. T and AD Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
  39. Whitehead H (2008) Analyzing animal societies. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Whitehead H (2009) SOCPROG programs: analyzing animal social structures. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 63:765–778CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean BuildingWallingfordUK
  2. 2.Museum and Institute of ZoologyPolish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland

Personalised recommendations