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Watch out! High vigilance at small waterholes when alone in open trees

Hofmann, G and Mettke-Hofmann, C (2024) Watch out! High vigilance at small waterholes when alone in open trees. PLoS One, 19 (7).

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An animal’s environment contains many risks causing animals to scan their environment for potential predators and threats from conspecifics. How much time they invest in such vigilance depends on environmental and social factors. Most vigilance studies have been conducted in a foraging context with little known about vigilance in other contexts. Here we investigated vigilance of Gouldian finches at waterholes considering environmental and social factors. Gouldian finches are colour polymorphic with two main head colours in both sexes co-occurring in the same population, black-headed and red-headed. Data collection was done on birds sitting in trees surrounding waterholes by measuring the frequency of head movements, which reflects how frequently they change their field of view, i.e., scan different areas in their environment. A higher frequency generally reflects higher vigilance. Gouldian finches had a higher frequency of head movements when at small waterholes and when sitting in open, leafless trees. Moreover, head movements were higher when birds were alone in the tree as compared to groups of birds. Finally, birds in same head colour morph groups had a higher frequency of head movements than birds in mixed head colour groups. Results indicate heightened vigilance with increased perception of predation risk (small waterholes, open exposed perch, when alone) but that social vigilance also played a role (group composition) with particularly the aggressive red-headed birds being more vigilant when together with other red-headed birds. Future research should investigate the effect of smaller waterholes as global warming will cause smaller waterholes to become more common for longer periods of time, which can increase stress in the birds.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: redation-risk; social vigilance; colour polymorphism; age; sex; group composition; Gouldian finch; General Science & Technology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2024 09:21
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2024 09:30
DOI or ID number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0304257
Editors: Tubelis, DP
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/23700
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