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Temporal variation in the behaviour of a cooperatively breeding bird, Jungle Babbler (Argya striata)

Abstract

Time is an important and limited resource that can drive the trade-off between various essential activities in the lives of animals. Group-living social birds are likely to be constrained for time as they need to perform individual behaviours required for sustenance but also participate in group activities. They must, therefore, partition the available time between these activities which may vary considerably with environmental and ecological conditions, making studies on time-activity budgets of social animals essential in understanding the evolution of sociality. We examined the time-activity budget of a cooperative passerine, Jungle Babbler (Argya striata) and temporal variation in their behaviours. A repertoire of 13 behaviours was recorded of which 12 behaviours that occur throughout the year were examined further in detail. This included individual behaviours such as foraging, grooming, rest, shower and group behaviours such as allogrooming, movement, play, sentinel, mobbing and inter-group fight. Our results indicate that most of the time (about 70%) was spent performing individual behaviours and the remaining time (about 30%) was allocated to social behaviours. We also found almost all behaviours varied across diel and seasonal scales with respect to the proportion of time spent performing them. This highlights the impact of environmental factors on how animals partition their time to perform various activities. Our study also lays the foundation for future studies examining the role of ecological factors such as habitat type and predation pressure in driving these patterns of behaviour in Jungle Babblers.

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Data availability

The datasets generated are available as supplementary material.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the two anonymous reviewers for providing useful comments for the manuscript. We thank the Department of Forest and Wildlife Preservation, Government of Punjab, India for necessary permits (Permit No: 3625), Director NIPER for allowing us to carry out this study inside the campus and IISER Mohali for infrastructural support. We thank Sonam Chorol, Ranjit Singh and Gurtej for help with fieldwork. We are grateful to Anindya Sinha for his invaluable inputs on data analysis, Tony Gaston and Sabrina Engesser for discussions on Jungle Babblers. We thank CK Vishnudas for help with bird banding and all members of BEL for support and help with the work. MJ is grateful to SKM for introducing her to ornithology.

Funding

The work was funded by a grant from the Science and Engineering Research Board, Department of Science and Technology (YSS/2015/001606) to MJ and received infrastructural support from IISER Mohali. SDY was supported by Senior Research Fellowships from the University Grants Commission, Government of India. We acknowledge the timely receipt of scholarship to SDY from UGC and urge all funding agencies to strive towards the same to enable a stress-free work environment for scholars.

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Authors

Contributions

MJ conceived and designed the study and secured funding for the work. SDY carried out the field work for data collection. SDY and MJ carried out all statistical analyses and wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Manjari Jain.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Jungle Babblers are listed in Schedule IV under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and designated as ‘Least Concern’ by IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. This study was conducted with necessary permits (No. 3625) from the Department of Forest and Wildlife Preservation, Government of Punjab, India, and with the approval of the Institute Animal Ethical Committee (IISER/SAFE/PRT/2018/003), IISER Mohali, India. No animals were harmed or kept in captivity for this study.

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Yambem, S.D., Jain, M. Temporal variation in the behaviour of a cooperatively breeding bird, Jungle Babbler (Argya striata). Trop Ecol (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42965-022-00254-w

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42965-022-00254-w

Keywords

  • Activity pattern
  • Diel activity pattern
  • Roosting
  • Seasonal variation
  • Social behaviour
  • Time-activity budget