The effect of social connections on the discovery of multiple hidden food patches in a bird species

Zoltán Tóth, Beniamino Tuliozi, Davide Baldan, Herbert Hoi, Matteo Griggio (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Social foraging is thought to provide the possibility of information transmission between individuals, but this advantage has been proved only in a handful of species and contexts. We investigated how social connections in captive flocks of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) affected the discovery of (i.e. feeding for the first time from) two hidden food patches in the presence of informed flock-mates. At the first-discovered and most-exploited food patch social connections between birds affected the order of discovery and presumably contributed to a greater exploitation of this patch. However, social connections did not affect discovery at the second food patch despite its close spatial proximity. Males discovered the food sources sooner than females, while feeding activity was negatively related to patch discovery. Age had no effect on the order of discovery. Birds that first discovered and fed at the food patches were characterized by higher level of social indifference, i.e. followed others less frequently than other birds in an independent context. Our findings provide experimental evidence for the importance of variable social connections during social foraging in house sparrow flocks, and suggest that social attraction can contribute differently to the exploitation of different patches when multiple food sources are present.
Original languageEnglish
Article number816
Number of pages1
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


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