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Interspecific social learning: Novel Preference Can Be Acquired from a Competing Species
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Animal Ecology.
2007 (English)In: Current Biology, ISSN 0960-9822, E-ISSN 1879-0445, Vol. 17, no 14, 1248-1252 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Nongenetic transmission of behavioral traits via social learning allows local traditions in humans, and, controversially, in other animals [1], [2], [3] and [4]. Social learning is usually studied as an intraspecific phenomenon (but see [5], [6] and [7]). However, other species with some overlap in ecology can be more than merely potential competitors: prior settlement and longer residence can render them preferable sources of information [8]. Socially induced acquisition of choices or preferences capitalizes upon the knowledge of presumably better-informed individuals [9] and should be adaptive under many natural circumstances [10] and [11]. Here we show with a field experiment that females of two migrant flycatcher species can acquire a novel, arbitrary preference of competing resident tits for a symbol attached to the nest sites. The experiment demonstrates that such blind acquisition of heterospecific traits can occur in the wild. Even though genetic variation for habitat preferences exists in many taxa [12] and overlap between bird species likely induces costs [13], this result shows that interspecific social learning can cause increased overlap in nest-site preferences. Conventional, negative species interactions push ecological niches of species apart, but the use of competing species as a source of information counters that force and may lead to convergence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 17, no 14, 1248-1252 p.
Keyword [en]
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-13333DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.06.034ISI: 000248202600030PubMedID: 17614285OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-13333DiVA: diva2:41103
Available from: 2008-01-22 Created: 2008-01-22 Last updated: 2011-01-27Bibliographically approved

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