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Traplining by purple-throated carib hummingbirds: behavioral responses to competition and nectar availability

Abstract

We examined the effects of nectar availability and competition on foraging preferences and revisit intervals of traplining female purple-throated caribs hummingbirds (Eulampis jugularis) to Heliconia patches shared by two individuals or visited solely by one individual. Birds at both shared and solitary patches preferred multiflowered to single-flowered inflorescences, but the magnitude of this preference depended on food availability and competition. During a year of low flower availability, females visited multiflowered inflorescences more frequently than single-flowered inflorescences only when nectar availability was experimentally enhanced; similarly, females at shared patches exhibited a significant preference for multiflowered inflorescences only after experimental increases in nectar availability. Experimental manipulations of nectar availability also had different effects on revisit intervals of birds at shared vs solitary patches. Birds at shared patches responded to patch-wide increases in nectar rewards by increasing the duration of their visit intervals, whereas birds at solitary patches did not. In contrast, birds at solitary patches responded to abrupt losses of nectar at flowers (simulating competition) by decreasing the duration of their visit intervals, whereas a bird at a shared patch did not alter its return interval. The contrasting results between shared vs solitary patches suggest that future studies of traplining behavior should incorporate levels of competition into their design.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Jazmine Arroyo, Vinita Gowda, and Silvana Marten-Rodriguez for help with data collection, Donald Anthony and Alwin Dornelly of the St. Lucia Forestry Department for advice and cooperation, and M. Elgar and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. Esther and Franz Louis-Fernand generously provided accommodations and hospitality. This research was supported by Amherst College Faculty Research Awards and NSF grant IBN-0078483 to EJT. Our research complies with the laws and regulations of the Government of St. Lucia.

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Correspondence to Ethan J. Temeles.

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Communicated by M. Elgar

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Temeles, E.J., Shaw, K.C., Kudla, A.U. et al. Traplining by purple-throated carib hummingbirds: behavioral responses to competition and nectar availability. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 61, 163–172 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-006-0247-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-006-0247-4

Keywords

  • Hummingbird
  • Eulampis jugularis
  • Foraging
  • Trapline
  • Intraspecific competition