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The influence of food abundance on the territorial behaviour of migratory songbirds during the winter residency

Bil, Wender (2019) The influence of food abundance on the territorial behaviour of migratory songbirds during the winter residency. Bachelor's Thesis, Ecology and Evolution.

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Abstract

Territoriality by means of competitor exclusion is a widespread spatial behaviour among migratory songbirds during the course of the non-breeding season. The fitness outcome of this behaviour is mainly determined by the ratio between the benefit of appropriating food sources and the costs imposed by territory defence. However, given the fact that natural changes in food abundance occur during the course of the non-breeding season, territorial songbirds will likely experience spatiotemporal shifts in the relative affordability of territorial behaviours. In order to understand this widespread spatial strategy despite the food-induced spatiotemporal shifts in its potential benefits, it is important to establish the existence of flexibility within the behaviours that constitute territoriality. In this paper I review the literature that addresses the influence of food abundance on 1) site fidelity, 2) territory size, and 3) territorial aggression during the non-breeding residency of territorial migratory songbirds. I found sparse evidence for changes in territorial behaviour as induced by changing food abundance. Of all components of territorial behaviour, the effect of food abundance on territory size was quantitively best explored, though no effect was found in study systems where territories were already established. Furthermore, evidence is found for food-related flexibility in territorial aggression: a behavioural change for which I suggest that it possibly precedes changes in spatial behaviour. Therefore, I recommend future studies on the subject to simultaneously focus on the different behavioural components of territoriality, in order to establish the existence of a hierarchy in flexible behavioural mechanisms that territorial migratory songbirds have at their disposal to cope with spatiotemporal shifts in food abundance.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Supervisor:
Supervisor nameSupervisor E mail
Both, C.C.Both@rug.nl
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2019
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2019 08:58
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/19318

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