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Research article2004Peer reviewedOpen access

Availability and use of public information and conspecific density for settlement decisions in the collared flycatcher

Doligez B, Part T, Danchin E, Clobert J, Gustafsson L


1. Public information, i.e. local reproductive performance of conspecifics, is expected to be a highly valuable cue for breeding habitat selection. However, the access to this cue may be spatially and temporally constrained. When public information is unavailable, individuals may use other integrative cues, such as the local density of breeders. 2. Departure decisions of collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) were shown previously to be related to both public information and breeding density, in a long-term correlative study of a fragmented population. Here, we tested whether flycatchers also use public information (number and condition of fledglings produced locally) and breeding density to make individual settlement decisions in the following year. 3. Immigration rates were computed to measure the degree of attractiveness of patches to new breeders. We investigated the relative influence of public information and breeding density on immigration rates of yearlings and older adults separately. The access to public information for settlement decisions may indeed be more limited for yearlings. 4. Immigration rate in a patch increased with mean fledgling number in the previous year for older adults but not for yearlings. Yearling immigration rate was correlated positively to mean fledgling condition when patch breeding density in the previous year was low, but negatively when density was high. 5. Immigration rates of both yearlings and older adults increased with breeding density in the previous year. Breeding density explained a larger part of the variance in immigration rate than patch reproductive success. 6. The proportion of yearlings among breeders decreased with increasing patch reproductive success and breeding density in the previous year, suggesting that local competition was high in attractive patches. 7. Our results thus suggest that public information is also used for immigration decisions. However, decisions of yearlings are more complex than those of older adults, due to their more limited access to public information and the higher impact of intraspecific competition. Conversely, all individuals seemed to cue on breeding density in a similar way. Density is correlated to patch reproductive success, and may be a more easily accessible cue. We discuss the potential advantages of using conspecific density over conspecific reproductive performance for future immigration decisions

Published in

Journal of Animal Ecology
2004, Volume: 73, number: 1, pages: 75-87

      SLU Authors

    • Pärt, Tomas

      • Department of Conservation Biology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

    Publication identifier


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