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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Springer Verlag

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Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Situations in which animals preferentially settle in low-quality habitat are referred to as ecological traps, and species that aggregate in response to conspecific cues, such as scent marks, that persist after the animals leave the area may be especially vulnerable. We tested this hypothesis on harvestmen (Prionostemma sp.) that roost communally in the rainforest understory. Based on evidence that these animals preferentially settle in sites marked with conspecific scent, we predicted that established aggregation sites would continue to attract new recruits even if the animals roosting there perished. To test this prediction, we simulated intense predation by repeatedly removing all individuals from 10 established roosts, and indeed, these sites continued to attract new harvestmen. A more likely reason for an established roost to become unsuitable is a loss of overstory canopy cover caused by treefalls. To investigate this scenario, without felling trees, we established 16 new communal roosts by translocating harvestmen into previously unused sites. Half the release sites were located in intact forest, and half were located in treefall gaps, but canopy cover had no significant effect on the recruitment rate. These results support the inference that communal roost sites are potential ecological traps for species that aggregate in response to conspecific scent.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 10/2014; 68(10).
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    ABSTRACT: It has been postulated that spatial organization of the colony, in addition to biological and social factors, influences colony life in honeybees. In this study, we examine the influence of workers’ distance from the queen on their reproductive, pheromonal and behavioural characteristics. Our results demonstrate that with increasing distance from the queen, workers increasingly develop behavioural and reproductive traits characteristic of queenlessness, which are presumably the result of significant impairment in queen pheromone transmission. Having contemplated the alternative possibilities of inadequate transmission of queen signal and voluntary escape from queen control, we concluded, based on the behavioural and physiological data, that the former is far more probable than the latter. The dose-dependent manner of the queen pheromone action and its differential influence on various worker characteristics are discussed.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 10/2014; 68(10).
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    ABSTRACT: Studying the environmental factors that guide the emergence of collective behaviors is instrumental to understanding the ecology and evolution of animal societies. Although recent work has provided insights into the demographic factors that influence inter-colony variation in collective behavior (i.e., colony-level personality or collective personality), relatively few studies have investigated how the physical environment (e.g., habitat structure) affects colony-level personality. Here, we study the emergence of collective personality in prey capture behavior in the social spider, Stegodyphus dumicola. We measured collective prey capture behavior four times over 36 days in a classic repeated measures design. We used four different artificial habitat (web support) structures in three different treatments: habitat structure was either (1) fixed and undisturbed, (2) disturbed with a complete removal of webbing between each measurement, or (3) disturbed with changes of habitat structure between each measurement. Our results revealed that repeatability in colony-level personality was retained as long as habitat structure was not altered. However, the repeatability of colony-level personality declined precipitously when groups were forced to build their webs on novel habitat structures. Furthermore, habitat structure affected collective capture behavior, that is, latency to attack and the number of attackers differed among colonies on different habitat structures. Collectively, our data demonstrate that habitat structure is instrumental in shaping both the mean and repeatability of the collective behavior of colonies and may influence overall foraging success.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The success of a social group is often driven by its collective characteristics and the traits of its individuals. Thus, understanding how collective behavior is influenced by the behavioral composition of group members is an important first step to understand the ecology of collective personalities. Here, we investigated how the efficiency of several group behaviors is influenced by the aggressiveness of its members in two species of Temnothorax ants. In our manipulation of group composition, we created two experimentally reconstituted groups in a split-colony design, i.e., each colony was split into an aggressive and a docile group of equal sizes. We found strong species-specific differences in how collective behaviors were influenced by its group members. In Temnothorax longispinosus, having more aggressive individuals improved colony defense and nest relocation efficiency. In addition, source colony identity strongly influenced group behavior in T. longispinosus, highlighting that manipulations of group compositions must control for the origin of the chosen individuals. In contrast, group composition and source colony did not influence collective behaviors in Temnothorax curvispinosus. This suggests that the mechanisms regulating collective behaviors via individual differences in behavior might differ among even closely related species.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 08/2014;
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    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 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: Signals of fertility in female animals are of increasing interest to evolutionary biologists, a development that coincides with increasing interest in male mate choice and the potential for female traits to evolve under sexual selection. We characterized variation in size of an exaggerated female fertility signal in baboons and investigated the sources of that variance. The number of sexual cycles that a female had experienced after her most recent pregnancy ("cycles since resumption") was the strongest predictor of swelling size. Furthermore, the relationship between cycles since resumption and swelling size was most evident during rainy periods and was not evident during times of drought. Finally, we found significant differences in swelling size between individual females; these differences endured across cycles (i.e., were not explained by variation within individuals) and persisted in spite of ecological effects. This study is the first to provide conclusive evidence of significant variation in swelling size between female primates (controlling for cycles since resumption) and to demonstrate that ecological constraints influence variation in this signal of fertility.
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 07/2014; 68(7):1109-1122.
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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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