Dawn song predicts behaviour during territory conflicts in personality-typed great tits

L. Snijders, E.P. van Rooij, M.F.A. Henskens, K. van Oers, M. Naguib

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Abstract

Territorial animals settle territory disputes and discourage conspecific intrusion via close-range confrontations as well as nonconfrontational long-range signalling. Since individuals often differ consistently in general aggression and risk taking, the relative use of either close- or long-range territorial defence behaviour is likely to vary with the personality of the territory owner. Here we quantified the relationship between dawn song, a well-studied long-range signal, and responses to a close-range confrontation as well as how individuals in a territorial population vary in this relationship. For this we recorded dawn song and experimentally simulated territory intrusions via playbacks in wild personality-typed male great tits, Parus major. We show that males that sang at a higher rate at dawn also showed stronger vocal responses towards a simulated intruder, but spent less time in proximity to the intruder. Moreover, males with a higher exploration score, an established proxy for personality traits, showed the strongest vocal and spatial responses during the confrontation, yet exploration behaviour did not predict the dawn song rate. These findings highlight the importance of both confrontational and nonconfrontational territorial behaviours as well as personality for the social and territorial dynamics of animal populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume109
Issue numberNovember
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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