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Gouldian finches are followers with black-headed females taking the lead

O'Reilly, AO, Hofmann, G and Mettke-Hofmann, C (2019) Gouldian finches are followers with black-headed females taking the lead. PLoS One, 14 (4). ISSN 1932-6203

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Colour polymorphism is a widespread phenomenon and often encompasses different behavioural traits and strategies. More recently, it has been shown that morphs can also signal consistent individual differences (personality). An example are Gouldian finches that show discrete head colour morphs in the same population with red-headed birds being more aggressive but less risk-taking and explorative than black-headed birds in the lab. The current study aimed to investigate the link between head colour and behavioural traits in a naturally risky situation in the wild by recording the order of descent at waterholes in relation to hypotheses considering conspicuousness, dominance relationships and experience. Other bird species at the waterholes were also included in the study. Adult Gouldian finches generally preceded juveniles and among the adults the least conspicuous black-headed females descended first to the waterhole. Overall, females descended before the males though this pattern disappeared later in the season likely due to family groups breaking up and releasing males from attending to the juveniles. Finally, Gouldian finches almost always followed other species, particularly Long-tailed finches, to the ground rather than taking the lead. A two-level process of decision-making seems to explain the responses best: on the first level, experience separates adults from juveniles with adults preceding juveniles and on the second level, conspicuousness acts as a factor among the adults with the least conspicuous category taking the lead. Future studies should directly test the link between head colour and personality in the wild, look more into seasonal effects and investigate whether Gouldian finches use Long-tailed finches as an indicator of safety.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: O’Reilly AO, Hofmann G, Mettke-Hofmann C (2019) Gouldian finches are followers with blackheaded females taking the lead. PLoS ONE 14(4): e0214531.
Uncontrolled Keywords: MD Multidisciplinary
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Natural Sciences & Psychology (closed 31 Aug 19)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Deposited: 16 May 2019 08:27
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 09:31
DOI or ID number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214531
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10505
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