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 (Online), Behav ecol sociobiol
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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hormones of maternal origin transferred to the eggs of oviparous species have been shown to significantly affect offspring development. Furthermore, there is now increasing evidence that these effects may last into adulthood. This underlines the persistence of yolk hormone-mediated maternal effects as well as their trans-generational potential as these changes may involve fitness-related traits such as mate choice behaviour, reproductive traits and longevity. Here, we tested the potential of yolk testosterone to affect sexual selection by experimentally increasing the yolk testosterone levels via egg injections. We focused on two central axes of sexual selection, male–male competition for access to a female (intra-sexual selection) and female mate choice behaviour (inter-sexual selection), using canaries (Serinus canaria) as a model species. Neither male agonistic behaviour nor access to the opposite sex, as measured in staged male–male encounters in the presence of a female, were affected by experimentally elevating yolk testosterone levels. We did not find any evidence for effects on female mate choice behaviour either, given the lack of significant effects on mate choice activity, consistency in female mate choice or choosiness. In conclusion, our results indicate that the consequences of yolk testosterone for sexual selection through changes in behavioural traits, which are expressed during pair formation or male–male competition, are probably limited.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 08/2014; 68(8).
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    ABSTRACT: Many species show fission-fusion group dynamics because it has clear advantages for flexibly exploiting heterogeneous environments. However, the mechanisms by which these dynamics arise are not well known. We used a hierarchical Bayesian model to disentangle the different influences on spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) individual fissions and fusions, including the three dimensions of fission-fusion dynamics (subgroup size, dispersion, and composition). Furthermore, we considered the influences of other individuals also leaving or joining a subgroup at the same time. We found that the most important influence on individual fissions and fusions is whether other individuals are also doing the same. Subgroup size and dispersion did not have clear effects on the probability that an individual fissioned or fusioned, while individuals tended to leave subgroups that were biased toward the opposite sex and to join subgroups that were biased toward their own sex. The networks constructed by the inter-individual influences during fissions and fusions were cohesive and did not show assortativity by sex or by degree. Individuals had a similar degree in both networks and each was influenced by a different set of individuals, suggesting a high fluidity in the social networks. We suggest that these networks reflect the way in which information about the environment flows as individuals follow one another during fissions and fusions.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 08/2014; 68(8).
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    ABSTRACT: Natal dispersal is an important event in the life history of many species. Timing of natal dispersal can influence survivorship and subsequent reproductive success. A variety of individual proximal factors determine if and when offspring disperse from the natal territory by influencing the costs of dispersing and the benefits of delaying dispersal. I examined the influence of multiple factors on dispersal age in the banner-tailed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys spectabilis), a solitary species lacking extreme sex-biased dispersal. I used an information theoretic approach to compare Cox proportional hazards regression models of dispersal age for 121 offspring over a 3-year period consisting of low and high population densities. The top-ranked models indicated that dispersal age was influenced by a combination of socioecological factors related to resource competition, environmental conditions, kin competition, and a lesser extent sex. Circumstances that likely reduced the probability of successful dispersal such as intense resource competition at high population density and being born earlier in the breeding season when environmental conditions were poor lead to longer delays in natal dispersal. Offspring in larger litters also dispersed earlier possibly to avoid competition with kin. Sex was weakly supported in top models but may only influence dispersal age at high population densities. These results suggest that the proximal factors that trigger dispersal are influenced by a combination of multiple effects related to the costs of dispersing and the benefits of remaining at home, even in species that do not form long-term social groups or have extreme sex-biased dispersal.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 07/2014; 68(7).
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    ABSTRACT: In socially monogamous species, extra-pair paternity may increase the reproductive success of highly ornamented males, mediating the evolution of sexual ornaments. However, ornaments may also attract social mates, and a tradeoff between extra-pair paternity (EPP) and within-pair paternity (WPP) may complicate mating strategies. Further, in many socially monogamous species, females are also ornamented, and the relationship between female ornamentation and patterns of EPP has been neglected. We investigated the patterns of genetic paternity with respect to carotenoid- and melanin-based pigmentation in yellow warblers (Setophaga petechia) of both sexes. We asked whether males face tradeoffs between EPP and WPP, how paternity patterns relate to carotenoid- versus melanin-based pigmentation, and whether less EPP occurs in broods when males and females are assortatively paired. Males faced a tradeoff between EPP and WPP. Moreover, non-additive relationships existed between paternity patterns and the two pigment types in both sexes. Males with high melanin coverage but dull carotenoid pigmentation achieved EPP but lost WPP, whereas males with high levels of both pigment types had high WPP but gained little EPP. A parallel pattern occurred in females. Warblers paired assortatively by pigmentation and EPP was less common in broods when the sexes were assortatively paired by carotenoid pigmentation. Results suggest that the most colorful birds obtain high quality social mates and advance reproductive success through WPP, show that correlations can arisebetween female ornamentation and patterns of EPP, and also uniquely suggest that social pairing patterns may influence extra-pair mating strategies.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: In bird communication, listening individuals may obtain information on the quality and motivation of a male not only from solo-singing, but also from song interactions and listeners base their future decisions in territorial and mating contexts on such public information. Eavesdropping on male interactions may thus have a strong influence on sexual selection. In singing interactions, temporal coordination (e.g. overlapping vs. alternating) of two singers as well as structural interaction patterns (e.g. song type matching or repertoire matching) have been described, but the latter is far less studied. By conducting dual-speaker playback experiments with common nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos, we simulated an interaction where one singer was repeatedly song–type matching his counterpart. Playbacks were broadcast to male and female nightingales, and their approach behaviour and singing responses (in the case of male focals) were analysed. We found that both, males and females, spent more time with the matched bird, whereas males additionally sang more songs towards the matching bird. This can be taken as strong hint that eavesdropping occurs in nightingale communication and that listening to male vocal contests might be an important strategy for both sexes to adjust their behavioural output. With regard to the function of song matching, we assume that song-matching is not an aggressive signal per se in nightingales. We rather conclude that vocal leaders within an interaction, here the matched bird, may elicit stronger responses in conspecifics than vocal followers, here the matching bird.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 07/2014; 68(7).
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    ABSTRACT: Reproduction is a notoriously costly phase of life, exposing individuals to injury, infectious disease, and energetic trade-offs. The strength of these costs should be influenced by life history strategies, and in long-lived species, females may be selected to mitigate costs of reproduction because life span is such an important component of their reproductive success. Here, we report evidence for two costs of reproduction that may influence survival in wild female baboons—injury risk and delayed wound healing. Based on 29 years of observations in the Amboseli ecosystem, Kenya, we found that wild female baboons experienced the highest risk of injury on days when they were most likely to be ovulating. In addition, lactating females healed from wounds more slowly than pregnant or cycling females, indicating a possible trade-off between lactation and immune function. We also found variation in injury risk and wound healing with dominance rank and age: Older and low-status females were more likely to be injured than younger or high-status females, and older females exhibited slower healing than younger females. Our results support the idea that wild nonhuman primates experience energetic and immune costs of reproduction and they help illuminate life history trade-offs in long-lived species.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 07/2014; 68(7).
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    ABSTRACT: Long-distance calls have a variety of functions in different animal species. However, where multiple functions are proposed for a single long-distance call type, little is known about their relative importance. Chimpanzees are one species where several functions have been proposed for their long-distance call, the pant hoot. In this study, we investigated the effect of social factors, including the rank of the caller, party size, fission–fusion rates, and the presence of estrus females as well as ecological factors including the type of food consumed and travel time, on male chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) pant hooting, in order to identify the key correlates of this behavior. The wild male chimpanzees of the Kanyawara community, Uganda, produced more pant hoots on days when there were frequent changes in the male, but not female, composition of the focal’s party. This factor accounted for the largest amount of variation in pant hoot production, and we found that males were more likely to repeat a call prior to rather than after fusion with other males, suggesting that the calls facilitate fusion. Pant hoots therefore seem to play a pivotal role in regulating grouping dynamics in chimpanzees. Our study also shows that pant hooting was positively correlated with the rank of the caller, the presence of parous females in estrus, and the consumption of high-quality food, suggesting that pant hoots signal social status or social bonds when between-male competition is high. This study supports the view that pant hoots fulfill a complex social function.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Research on intraspecific aggression has typically focused on dominant individuals, but a better understanding of the consequences and mechanisms of agonistic encounters requires a balanced perspective that includes knowledge of subordinate animal behaviors. In contrast to signals of fighting ability, signals of submission are an understudied component of agonistic communication that could provide important insights into the dynamics, function, and evolution of intraspecific competition. Here, I use a series of staged agonistic trials between adult male veiled chameleons Chamaeleo calyptratus to test the hypothesis that rapid skin darkening serves as a submissive signal to resolve agonistic activity. Concordant with this hypothesis, I found that losing chameleons darkened over the course of aggressive trials while winners brightened, and the likelihood of darkening increased when individuals were attacked more aggressively. Additionally, I found that the degree of brightness change exhibited by individual chameleons was tied to both overall and net aggression experienced during a trial, with chameleons who received high levels of aggression relative to their own aggression levels darkening to a greater extent than individuals receiving relatively less aggression. Lastly, I found that aggression increased for losers and winners prior to the onset of darkening by the eventual loser but that both chameleons reduced aggression after the losing chameleon began to darken. Based on the theoretical prediction that signals of submission should be favored when retreat options are restricted, I suggest that limited escapability imposed by chameleon morphology, physiology, and ecology favored the evolution of a pigment-based signal of submission in this group.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 06/2014; 68(6).
  • Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Group size, predation risk and habituation are key drivers of behaviour and evolution in gregarious prey animals. However, the extent to which they interact in shaping behaviour is only partially understood. We analyzed their combined effects on boldness and vigilance behaviour in juvenile perch (Perca fluviatilis) by observing individuals in groups of one, two, three and five faced with four different levels of predation risk in a repeated measures design. The perch showed an asymptotic increase in boldness with increasing group size and the highest per capita vigilance in groups of two. With increasing predation risk, individuals reduced boldness and intensified vigilance. The interaction between group size and predation risk influenced vigilance but not boldness. In this context, individuals in groups of two elevated their vigilance compared to individuals in larger groups only when at higher risk of predation. Further, as only group size, they significantly reduced vigilance at the highest level of risk. With increasing habituation, solitary individuals became considerably bolder. Also, predation risk affected boldness only in the more habituated situation. Hence, repeated measures may be essential to correctly interpret certain relationships in behaviour. Our results suggest that perch may adjust boldness behaviour to group size and predation risk independently. This is rather unexpected since in theory, natural selection would strongly favour an interactive adjustment. Finally, vigilance might be particularly effective in groups of two due to the intense monitoring and detailed response to changing levels of risk.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 06/2014; 68(6).
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    ABSTRACT: Herbivorous insects may evolve convergent behaviors when independent adoption of a shared novel host plant places populations in environmental conditions that diverge from the ancestral state. We investigated the behavioral consequences of adopting Plantago lanceolata, an exotic species to North America, in populations of Euphydryas p. phaeton and Euphydryas editha taylori, on the east and west coasts of North America. Activity budgets and short-term movements suggested that innate species tendencies exert a greater impact on behavior than adoption of the same exotic host plant. However, female E. phaeton from a Plantago-dependent population spent more time inspecting host plants than females from a population dependent on the native host plant, Chelone glabra. Both checkerspot species had similar diffusion coefficients (D) regardless of host plant association. But, E. e. taylori step-lengths appeared bimodal and power law distributed while E. phaeton step-lengths were unimodal and best fit by an exponential distribution. We attribute this bimodal step-length distribution to the persistent harassment of courting males which induces a “long-distance” evasive flight in otherwise sedentary E. e. taylori females. In contrast, the longer distance step-lengths of E. phaeton were associated with the inspection of oviposition plants. These two checkerspot species appear to move greater distances across the reproductive landscape with contrasting motivational states that could lead to either intimate mapping (E. phaeton) or coarse mapping (E. e. taylori) of host resources.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 05/2014; 68(5).
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    ABSTRACT: The primary cue for initiation of spring migratory restlessness (Zugunruhe) in landbird migrants is photoperiod. Gonadal hormones are known to have a role in the regulation of migratory disposition; however, the extent of their effect is not well understood. We examined the impact of exogenous testosterone on the onset of migratory restlessness in gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis). Catbirds were stratified by sex and randomly assigned to two rooms; individuals in one room were photoadvanced to initiate migratory restlessness and the other room was maintained on a 12:12 light/dark photoperiod. Each room had three groups (n = 10/group); males with testosterone implants, males with empty implants, and females. We predicted that in the photoadvanced room males with testosterone implants would initiate migratory activity earlier than empty-implanted males. We found that in the photoadvanced group, testosterone-implanted males initiated migration 2 weeks prior to empty-implanted males, and 3 weeks prior to females. In the non-photoadvanced males, the testosterone-implanted males initiated migration at the same time as the corresponding group in the photoadvanced room, while the empty-implanted males and females did not exhibit Zugunruhe. Our results illustrate that elevated testosterone can advance the onset of Zugunruhe, even in the absence of an extended photoperiod. Additionally, the onset of migratory restlessness observed in the photoadvanced, non-testosterone-implanted males and females further supports the importance of photoperiod as a cue for migratory restlessness. An interesting observation was the intersexual differences in the onset of migratory activity in gray catbirds, a species not previously known to exhibit protandry.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 04/2014; 68(4).
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    ABSTRACT: Adaptive brain architecture hypotheses predict brain region investment matches the cognitive and sensory demands an individual confronts. Social hymenopteran queen and worker castes differ categorically in behavior and physiology leading to divergent sensory experiences. Queens in mature colonies are largely nest-bound while workers depart nests to forage. We predicted social paperwasp castes would differ in tissue allocation among brain regions. We expected workers to invest relatively more than queens in neural tissues that process visual input. As predicted, we found workers invested more in visual relative to antennal processing than queens both in peripheral sensory lobes and in central processing brain regions (mushroom bodies). Although we did not measure individual brain development changes, our comparative data provide a preliminary test of mechanisms of caste differences. Paperwasp species differ in the degree of caste differentiation (monomorphic versus polymorphic castes) and in colony structure (independent- versus swarm-founding); these differences could correspond to the magnitude of caste brain divergence. If caste differences resulted from divergent developmental programs (experience-expectant brain growth), we predicted species with morphologically distinct queens, and/or swarm-founders, would show greater caste divergence of brain architecture. Alternatively, if adult experience affected brain plasticity (experience-dependent brain growth), we predicted independent-founding species would show greater caste divergence of brain architecture. Caste polymorphism was not related to the magnitude of queen-worker brain differences, and independent-founder caste brain differences were greater than swarm-founder caste differences. Greater caste separation in independent-founder brain structure suggests a role for adult experience in the development of caste-specific brain anatomy.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 04/2014; 68(4).
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    ABSTRACT: Ground-dwelling sciurids exhibit a continuum of sociality and several models predict levels of sociality within this taxon. Models of ground squirrel sociality predict round-tailed ground squirrels (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus) to be solitary; however, previous behavioral studies suggest round-tailed ground squirrels have a matrilineal social structure. To resolve this discrepancy, we combined behavioral observations with genetic analyses of population structure. We assessed levels of agonistic and amicable behaviors combined with fine-scale population genetic structure of round-tailed ground squirrels in a multi-year study in AZ. Only 45 agonistic and 40 amicable interactions were observed between adults in over 137 h of observations. Overall rates of agonistic or amicable interactions between adults were low (≤0.69/h), with no relationship between relatedness of individuals and rates of either amicable or agonistic interactions. Interactions between juvenile littermates were predominantly amicable. Population substructure was not evident with Bayesian analyses, global or pairwise F ST values; average relatedness among females was not different from males. However, in 2006, the year after a population reduction through targeted animal elimination, a population bottleneck was detected within at least five of seven loci. Contrary to previous behavioral studies, this population of round-tailed ground squirrels, although aggregated spatially, did not exhibit high levels of social behavior nor subpopulation genetic structure. Analyses of the genetic relationships and sociality along a continuum, particularly within aggregates of individuals, may lead to insights into the origin and maintenance of social behaviors by elucidating the mechanisms by which aggregates with intermediate social levels are formed and maintained.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 04/2014; 68(4).

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