Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (BEHAV ECOL SOCIOBIOL )

Publisher: Springer Verlag


The journal publishes reviews and original contributions dealing with quantitative empirical and theoretical studies in the field of the analyis of animal behavior on the level of the individual population and community. Special emphasis is placed on the proximate mechanisms ultimate functions and evolution of ecological adaptations of behavior. Aspects of particular interest: Intraspecific behavioral interactions with special emphasis on social behavior Interspecific behavioral mechanisms e.g. of competition and resource partitioning mutualism predator-prey interactions parasitism Behavioral ecophysiology Orientation in space and time Relevant evolutionary and functional theory Purely descriptive material is not acceptable for publication unless it is concerned with the analysis of behavioral mechanisms or with new theory.

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    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology website
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    Behavioral ecology and sociobiology (Online), Behav ecol sociobiol
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Springer Verlag

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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Cooperative breeding has been studied intensively in many species of birds and mammals but remain less well studied in fish. We report a remarkable new example of a cooperatively breeding cichlid from Lake Tanganyika, Neolamprologus obscurus. Using field observations and microsatellite DNA analyses, we studied group structure, helping behavior, relatedness, and dispersal of this species. We present four major observations. First, large territorial breeding males mated with one to eight breeding females, each of which was territorial and unrelated to another. Second, one to ten smaller fish (“subordinates”) of both sexes were allowed to stay inside the breeding females’ territories. Subordinates were often highly related to both the respective breeding male and female and performed territory defense and shelter maintenance, which is regarded as helping behaviors. Third, one to three subordinate males, similar in size to breeding females, were allowed to stay inside a breeding male’s territory but were not tolerated in the breeding females’ territories. Pairwise relatedness suggests these individuals are usually sons of the respective breeding male. Fourth, pairwise relatedness estimates suggest that juveniles delay dispersal and assist their mothers in raising offspring. As female subordinates grow up, they leave the father’s territory and disperse into other groups. In contrast, male subordinates leave their mother’s territory but remain within the territory of their father. The described social system makes N. obscurus a promising new model species to study the evolution of cooperative breeding.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 02/2015; 69(2).
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    ABSTRACT: Game theoretical models on contest behaviour generally assume that individuals, when competing by pair-wise contests, make their decision to maximize their own rewards. In several situations, however, individuals’ fitness is unlikely to depend solely on their performance, and one would then expect individuals to modify their behaviour towards specific group members. This is the case for instance in monogamous species when an individual competes with its mating partner that contributes as well to the breeding performance of the pair. In this study, we explored whether individuals, when searching for food in the presence of their partner, tend to preferentially interact with them and if pair members behave differently compared to unfamiliar individuals. First, we developed a variant of the hawk-dove game that predicts the frequency and intensity of interactions between pair members, and second, we conducted a laboratory experiment with zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to evaluate the effects of pair bonding on the frequency of aggression and joining events. We found that individuals interacted more frequently with their partner than expected by chance. Thus, although males initiated more aggressive interactions towards their partner than towards any other member of the flock, our findings support our model’s prediction that males would benefit from being tolerant towards their social partner and preferentially interact with her, in order to maximize her foraging success and hence, ultimately, the breeding performance of the pair.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Reciprocation and interchange of grooming and support may emerge as a consequence of the socio-spatial structure of the group through which individuals interact with certain partners more frequently than with others. This is shown in a computational model of grouping, fighting, and grooming, called Groofiworld. In this case, no specific mechanism of exchange is needed, such as described in calculated reciprocity or emotional bookkeeping. One of the drawbacks of this model, GroofiWorld, however, is that it lacks social bonding, a factor that may play an important role in real societies of primates. To investigate the effect of social bonding on exchange relations, in the present study, we add ‘social bonding’ to the model ‘GrooFiWorld.’ In the new model, called ‘FriendsWorld,’ social bonds or ‘friends’ are defined as the top 25 % grooming partners and individuals are given a tendency to follow their friends. Note that they do not intend to reciprocate or interchange social services with friends. Results show that this mechanism of ‘follow-your-friends,’ not only increases social interactions among top grooming partners, but also strengthens the patterns of reciprocation and interchange. Our findings suggest that, in real primates, reciprocation and interchange may emerge as a side-effect of the social–spatial structure of the group and subsequently be strengthened by social bonding as represented in FriendsWorld. We give predictions that distinguish between the mechanism of ‘follow-your-friends’ and emotional bookkeeping.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Reproductive success is determined by the presence and timing of encounter of mates. The latter depends on species-specific reproductive characteristics (e.g., initiation/duration of the mating window), season, and reproductive strategies (e.g., intensity of choosiness) that may potentially mitigate constraints imposed by mating windows. Despite their potentially crucial role for fitness and population dynamics, limited evidence exists about mating window initiation, duration, and reproductive strategies. Here, we experimentally tested the mechanisms of initiation and the duration of the common lizard's Zootoca vivipara mating window by manipulating the timing of mate encounter and analyzing its effect on (re-)mating probability. We furthermore tested treatment effects on female reproductive strategies by measuring female choosiness. The timing of mate encounter and season did not significantly affect mating probability. However, a longer delay until mate encounter reduced female choosiness. Re-mating probability decreased with re-mating delay and was independent of mating delay. This indicates that mating window initiation depends on mate encounter, that its duration is fixed, and that plastic reproductive strategies exist. These findings contrast with previous beliefs and shows that mating windows per se may not necessarily constrain reproductive success, which is congruent with rapid range expansion and absence of positive density effects on reproductive success (Allee effects). In summary, our results show that predicting the effect of mating windows on reproduction is complex and that experimental evidence is essential for evaluating their effect on reproduction and reproductive strategies, both being important determinants of population dynamics and the colonization of new habitats.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Mating success depends not only on genetic and phenotypic characteristics of males and females but also on their spatial position relative to other individuals, which influences the chances for interactions. Hence, any behavior that affects proximity to other individuals can potentially translate into fitness gain or loss. Here, we investigate the effects of genotype on male movement and distance to nearest neighbor (DNN) in three populations of the edible frog Pelophylax esculentus, a natural hybrid between its parental species Pelophylax ridibundus (genotype RR) and Pelophylax lessonae (LL). The system is particularly suited for such an analysis because the fitness differences between mating with a certain genotype are particularly strong. Moreover, which genotype should be preferred differs among populations where diploid hybrids (LR) live in sympatry with P. lessonae (L–E system) and those where diploid hybrids occur in all-hybrid populations together with triploids (LLR and/or LRR) (E–E system). Hence, we expected differences among genotypes in movement patterns and spatial arrangement within the breeding pond. We did, indeed, find such differences. They were predominantly due to density differences between populations, followed by size and condition differences between males. Most relevant for our question was a difference in DNN: in the E–E system, distances between all three hybrid types were equal, whereas in the L–E system LR hybrids tended to stay closer to LL than to other LR. The results are discussed in relation to previous mate choice experiments and theoretical models about mating preferences in the two systems.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 01/2015;
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    ABSTRACT: Multiple mating is common in insects and may bring direct and/or indirect benefits to females. Galerucella birmanica Jacoby feeds monophagously on water caltrop Trapa natans L. and is a serious pest in Asia where water caltrop is grown as an aquatic vegetable. It is also used as an effective biological control agent in North America, where water caltrop is a major invasive plant species. In this study, we tested the direct benefits of multiple mating when females were continuously exposed to males and had restricted exposure to males. Under restricted exposure conditions, where females were exposed to males only when mating, multiple mating significantly reduced female longevity but promoted female daily and lifetime reproductive output (LRO) significantly. The average LRO increased from 404 to 674 eggs per female when mating number increased from one to five. Multiple mating also boosted the hatch rate of eggs, especially those produced in the late oviposition stage. Under continuous exposure conditions, females housed with four males died significantly younger than females housed with two or one male, and they also died younger than females subjected to multiple mating but with restricted exposure to males. The LRO decreased significantly with the increase of the number of males that the female was exposed to and was significantly lower for females continuously exposed to males than those with restricted exposure to males. Continuous exposure to males had no significant effect on egg hatch rate throughout the ovipositing period. These results demonstrated that multiple mating is important for female G. birmanica to achieve optimal reproductive output, but male harassment on females caused by exposure to males outweighs this benefit.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 01/2015; 69(1).
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    ABSTRACT: In cuckoo-host coevolution, rejection of parasite eggs based on visual discrimination is the key host-defensive mechanism reducing the costs of parasitism. Although host discriminatory tasks often occur in variable environmental conditions, the influence of nest light variation on the perceptual processes involved in egg discrimination has been seldom considered. Here, we combine visual modeling, experimental manipulation of nest ambient light, and egg recognition experiments with model eggs differing in background color (cream vs. blue) to explore the possibility that variation in ambient light in magpie (Pica pica) domed nests may affect the perceptual process involved in discrimination of foreign eggs. We found that the architecture of magpie nests affects the quality of ambient light for egg recognition and that changes in luminosity did not differently affect rejection of blue and cream models. However, we found that ejection of model eggs declined throughout the season in nests in which luminosity remained unmodified, but that magpies rejected eggs at a similar rate over the season in nests in which luminosity was increased. These results therefore suggest that variation in ambient light at the nests might potentially influence the perceptual processes involved in visual detection of parasite eggs by cuckoo hosts.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Synchronous development is widespread throughout the animal kingdom, but how synchrony is achieved remains largely unknown. I examined whether (1) a group-living rhinoceros beetle Trypoxylus dichotomus prepares for pupation (i.e. prepupates) synchronously in the field, (2) whether the synchrony occurs through social interactions, and (3) whether the synchrony incurs physiological costs. I found that larvae prepupate synchronously within natural humus sites. Laboratory experiments show that, when pairs of larvae are placed in the same cage, they prepupate on almost the same day, while two larvae chosen from different cages are expected to prepupate at 6-day intervals. I examined the mechanism of synchronous prepupation by inducing maturity asynchrony between two individuals. Less advanced larvae shortened the larval period in the presence of more advanced neighbours, whilst advanced individuals prolonged the larval periods in the presence of less advanced neighbours. However, variations in the prolongation or shortening of the larval period were dependant on the sites from which the larvae were collected, and in no site did both prolongation and shortening occur together. When the larval periods were prolonged or shortened, the body weight of the resulting pupae decreased. These data show that larvae of this species alter the timing of prepupation depending on the maturity of their neighbours. This developmental plasticity is likely to incur physiological costs due to pupation in suboptimal timing. The pupae and prepupae of this species may gain some benefits such as predator avoidance through the synchrony, which outweigh the cost in terms of reduced body weight.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: In mammals, including humans, the most consistent cognitive sex difference appears to be a male advantage in spatial ability. Usually, some sex-correlated selective advantage is inferred to explain this, for example, the need for males to navigate over large territories. In birds, sex differences in learning abilities are rare. Here, we show that females of a common European songbird, the great tit, do clearly better than males in an observational memorization task. We allowed caged great tits to observe food-caching marsh tits in an indoor aviary. One hour later, the great tits were released to search for the cached food. Females consistently performed better than males in this task. The results are remarkable for several reasons: (i) a sex difference in a cognitive ability of such a magnitude is unusual; (ii) most sex differences in spatial ability that have been reported so far concerns a male advantage; and perhaps most remarkably, (iii) female great tits were as successful in relocating the cached food as the hoarding marsh tits themselves. We hypothesize that female great tits are better at this than males because they are subordinate foragers. Males have prior access to food in nature and can easily displace females. Females will then benefit from a special ability to memorize caching positions that makes it possible for them to return and retrieve the food later when males are not around.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Males can through their behavior (e.g., courtship feeding) exert an indirect effect on their partner’s reproductive traits, such as the seasonal timing and size of her clutch. Evidence for such indirect (male) effect on reproduction is starting to accumulate. We quantify female and male effects on reproduction in the tawny owl Strix aluco using a hierarchical mixed model on data collected in 1978–2013. We find that differences between males explain 7 % of the phenotypic variance in laying date (females 5 %). In contrast, females have a clear (11 %) effect on clutch size, whereas males have no effect. Based on multivariate hierarchical modeling, we find an individual-level correlation between the male-specific effect on laying date and his body mass (but not his plumage color or wing length). Heavy males may be able to affect their partner’s seasonal timing of laying because of an advantage in providing courtship feeding prior to reproduction. Our findings illustrate that males can be an important determinant of variation in reproduction and that multivariate mixed models present a general approach to pinpoint which individual characteristics could be associated with such indirect effects.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 12/2014;