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Morph Composition Matters in the Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae): Involvement of Red-Headed Birds Increases Vigilance

Mettke-Hofmann, C (2021) Morph Composition Matters in the Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae): Involvement of Red-Headed Birds Increases Vigilance. Birds, 2 (4). pp. 404-414. ISSN 2673-6004

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Animals invest in costly vigilance to detect threats. Joining groups reduces these costs, which can be further reduced in mixed-species assemblages. In colour-polymorphic species, morphs often experience different predation pressure and vary in a variety of traits. However, little is known about differences in vigilance or how group composition affects vigilance. The aim was to investigate whether higher conspicuousness increased vigilance and whether vigilance was reduced in mixed-morph groups like in mixed-species assemblages. I tested vigilance in the colourpolymorphic Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae). Same sex pairs of different age and of either pure (red-red or black-black) or mixed head colour were exposed to three contexts (familiar, changed and novel environment) and head movements were recorded. All birds reduced the frequency of head movements with increasing novelty, indicating different vigilance strategies (switching from a searching to a tracking strategy) depending on the situation. While vigilance did not differ between morphs, morph composition mattered. Black-headed pairs made fewer head movements than mixedhead colour pairs. Results indicated that conspicuousness did not affect vigilance, possibly due to existing adaptations to reduce predation risk. However, whenever red-headed birds were involved, vigilance increased either because of higher group conspicuousness or prevalence of aggression.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: visual exploration; polymorphism; vigilance; group composition; head movements; bird; estrildidae
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: MDPI
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2021 10:49
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2021 11:00
DOI or ID number: 10.3390/birds2040030
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15828
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