No reproductive fitness benefits of dear enemy behaviour in a territorial songbird View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2022-06-29

AUTHORS

Michael S. Reichert, Jodie M. S. Crane, Gabrielle L. Davidson, Eileen Dillane, Ipek G. Kulahci, James O’Neill, Kees van Oers, Ciara Sexton, John L. Quinn

ABSTRACT

Territorial animals often respond less aggressively to neighbours than strangers. This ‘dear enemy’ effect is hypothesized to be adaptive by reducing unnecessary aggressive interactions with non-threatening individuals. A key prediction of this hypothesis, that individual fitness will be affected by variation in the speed and the extent to which individuals reduce their aggression towards neighbours relative to strangers, has never been tested. We used a series of song playbacks to measure the change in response of male great tits to a simulated establishment of a neighbour on an adjacent territory during early stages of breeding, as an assay of individuals’ tendencies to form dear enemy relationships. Males reduced their approach to the speaker and sang fewer songs on later playback repetitions. However, only some males exhibited dear enemy behaviour by responding more strongly to a subsequent stranger playback, and when the playback procedure was repeated on a subset of males, there was some indication for consistent differences among individuals in the expression of dear enemy behaviour. We monitored nests and analysed offspring paternity to determine male reproductive success. Individuals that exhibited dear enemy behaviour towards the simulated neighbour did not suffer any costs associated with loss of paternity, but there was also no evidence of reproductive benefits, and no net effect on reproductive fitness. The general ability to discriminate between neighbours and strangers is likely adaptive, but benefits are probably difficult to detect because of the indirect link between individual variation in dear enemy behaviour and reproductive fitness and because of the complex range of mechanisms affecting relations with territorial neighbours.Significance statementThe dear enemy effect, in which animals respond less aggressively to familiar neighbours compared to strangers, is probably beneficial because it reduces aggressive interactions with non-threatening individuals. However, no study has ever tested whether there actually are fitness benefits for individuals with a greater tendency to form dear enemy relationships. Our study used experimental playbacks to simulate neighbours and strangers, and we found no relationship between dear enemy behaviour and reproductive success in a songbird. However, our approach to test adaptive hypotheses of this widespread territorial behaviour and our longitudinal playback design to examine the development of familiarity towards a neighbour and discrimination of neighbours and strangers are likely to be important tools to advance our understanding of territorial behaviour and individual recognition. More... »

PAGES

90

References to SciGraph publications

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  • 1976-06. Habituation and song repertoires in the great tit in BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
  • 2000-07. Effect of blue tit song syntax on great tit territorial responsiveness – an experimental test of the character shift hypothesis in BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
  • 1984-07. The conflict between feeding and territorial defence in the great tit in BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY
  • 1982-05. Mating and song sharing in the great tit in NATURE
  • 2010-11-16. Neighbour–stranger discrimination by Yellow-bellied Tit Parus venustulus: evidence for the “dear-enemy” effect in JOURNAL OF ORNITHOLOGY
  • 2018-06-30. Breeding phenology, provisioning behaviour, and unusual patterns of life history variation across an anthropogenic heterogeneous landscape in OECOLOGIA
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    24 schema:description Territorial animals often respond less aggressively to neighbours than strangers. This ‘dear enemy’ effect is hypothesized to be adaptive by reducing unnecessary aggressive interactions with non-threatening individuals. A key prediction of this hypothesis, that individual fitness will be affected by variation in the speed and the extent to which individuals reduce their aggression towards neighbours relative to strangers, has never been tested. We used a series of song playbacks to measure the change in response of male great tits to a simulated establishment of a neighbour on an adjacent territory during early stages of breeding, as an assay of individuals’ tendencies to form dear enemy relationships. Males reduced their approach to the speaker and sang fewer songs on later playback repetitions. However, only some males exhibited dear enemy behaviour by responding more strongly to a subsequent stranger playback, and when the playback procedure was repeated on a subset of males, there was some indication for consistent differences among individuals in the expression of dear enemy behaviour. We monitored nests and analysed offspring paternity to determine male reproductive success. Individuals that exhibited dear enemy behaviour towards the simulated neighbour did not suffer any costs associated with loss of paternity, but there was also no evidence of reproductive benefits, and no net effect on reproductive fitness. The general ability to discriminate between neighbours and strangers is likely adaptive, but benefits are probably difficult to detect because of the indirect link between individual variation in dear enemy behaviour and reproductive fitness and because of the complex range of mechanisms affecting relations with territorial neighbours.Significance statementThe dear enemy effect, in which animals respond less aggressively to familiar neighbours compared to strangers, is probably beneficial because it reduces aggressive interactions with non-threatening individuals. However, no study has ever tested whether there actually are fitness benefits for individuals with a greater tendency to form dear enemy relationships. Our study used experimental playbacks to simulate neighbours and strangers, and we found no relationship between dear enemy behaviour and reproductive success in a songbird. However, our approach to test adaptive hypotheses of this widespread territorial behaviour and our longitudinal playback design to examine the development of familiarity towards a neighbour and discrimination of neighbours and strangers are likely to be important tools to advance our understanding of territorial behaviour and individual recognition.
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    31 adaptive hypotheses
    32 adjacent territories
    33 aggression
    34 aggressive interactions
    35 animals
    36 approach
    37 assays
    38 behavior
    39 benefits
    40 breeding
    41 changes
    42 complex range
    43 consistent differences
    44 cost
    45 dear enemy
    46 dear enemy effect
    47 dear enemy relationship
    48 design
    49 development
    50 development of familiarity
    51 differences
    52 discrimination
    53 early stages
    54 effect
    55 enemies
    56 enemy behavior
    57 enemy effect
    58 establishment
    59 evidence
    60 experimental playbacks
    61 expression
    62 extent
    63 familiar neighbours
    64 familiarity
    65 fitness
    66 fitness benefits
    67 general ability
    68 great tits
    69 greater tendency
    70 hypothesis
    71 important tool
    72 indications
    73 indirect links
    74 individual fitness
    75 individual recognition
    76 individual variation
    77 individuals
    78 interaction
    79 key predictions
    80 link
    81 loss
    82 loss of paternity
    83 male great tits
    84 male reproductive success
    85 males
    86 mechanism
    87 neighbours
    88 nests
    89 net effect
    90 offspring paternity
    91 paternity
    92 playback
    93 playback design
    94 prediction
    95 procedure
    96 range
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    98 relation
    99 relationship
    100 repetition
    101 reproductive benefits
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    105 response
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