Where does a flock end from an information perspective? A comparative experiment with live and robotic birds
AbstractPredator detection is improved when individuals join groups. Theory assumes that the transfer of social information about predators among individuals is immediate and accurate. However, animals in groups space themselves at different distances. Little is known about the shape of the social information transfer function over distance, which can affect group cohesion and ultimately the costs and benefits of group living. Our goal was to study the flow of social information in 3 bird species with different visual acuity (European starling, brown-headed cowbird, and house finch). We used robotic birds to manipulate the availability of social information. In a previous study, we demonstrated that birds react to robotic birds in the same way as they do to live birds. We measured the probability of 3 linearly placed live birds reacting to the flushing behavior of 2 robotic birds of the same species. Our study species were tested independently. We found a nonlinear decrease in social information flow with increasing distance between the robots and live birds; however, this decrease was more pronounced in species with lower visual acuity. Additionally, social information apparently degraded when flowing between closely spaced individuals, which could lead to false alarms. Our findings suggest that the benefits of social information flow are restricted to small neighbor distances and that larger species, with higher visual acuity, may have a greater spatial domain of collective detection. This mechanism may explain the spatial limits of flocks based on the transfer of social information. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by International Society for Behavioral Ecology in its journal Behavioral Ecology.
Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK
Fax: 01865 267 985
Web page: http://beheco.oxfordjournals.org/
You can help add them by filling out this form.
reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.