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Kuruman, South Africa

Humphries D.J.,Macquarie University | Humphries D.J.,Pied Babbler Research Project | Finch F.M.,Pied Babbler Research Project | Bell M.B.V.,Pied Babbler Research Project | And 5 more authors.
Ethology | Year: 2016

The ability to identify social partners can play a key role in the coordination of social behaviours in group-living animals. Coordinating social behaviours over long distances becomes problematic, as cues to identity are often limited to one or two sensory modalities. This limitation can often select for strong individuality in those cues used for long-distance communication. Pied babblers, Turdoides bicolor, produce a number of different types of 'loud calls' which are frequently used to signal to individuals beyond the range of visual or olfactory pathways of communication. Here, we show that three of these 'loud call' types, the v-shaped chatter, the double note ascending chatter and the atonal chatter, are each individually distinct. We hypothesise that individuality in the three loud call types tested here may represent a possible pathway to social recognition in this species that may have important consequences for social interactions. However, we also found that the atonal chatter was unstable between years suggesting that this particular call type may not be a reliable long-term indicator to identity which may affect long-term recognition in this species. © 2016 Blackwell Verlag GmbH. Source


Hollen L.I.,University of Bristol | Bell M.B.V.,University of Cambridge | Bell M.B.V.,University of Edinburgh | Russell A.,Pied Babbler Research Project | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Efficient cooperation requires effective coordination of individual contributions to the cooperative behaviour. Most social birds and mammals involved in cooperation produce a range of vocalisations, which may be important in regulating both individual contributions and the combined group effort. Here we investigate the role of a specific call in regulating cooperative sentinel behaviour in pied babblers (Turdoides bicolor). 'Fast-rate chuck' calls are often given by sentinels as they finish guard bouts and may potentially coordinate the rotation of individuals as sentinels, minimising time without a sentinel, or may signal the presence or absence of predators, regulating the onset of the subsequent sentinel bout. We ask (i) when fast-rate chuck calls are given and (ii) what effect they have on the interval between sentinel bouts. Contrary to expectation, we find little evidence that these calls are involved in regulating the pied babbler sentinel system: observations revealed that their utterance is influenced only marginally by wind conditions and not at all by habitat, while observations and experimental playback showed that the giving of these calls has no effect on inter-bout interval. We conclude that pied babblers do not seem to call at the end of a sentinel bout to maximise the efficiency of this cooperative act, but may use vocalisations at this stage to influence more individually driven behaviours. © 2011 Hollén et al. Source


Humphries D.J.,Macquarie University | Humphries D.J.,Pied Babbler Research Project | Finch F.M.,Pied Babbler Research Project | Bell M.B.V.,University of Edinburgh | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

For territorial group-living species, opportunities to reproduce on the natal territory can be limited by a number of factors including the availability of resources within a territory, access to unrelated individuals, and monopolies on reproduction by dominant group members. Individuals looking to reproduce are therefore faced with the options of either waiting for a breeding opportunity to arise in the natal territory, or searching for reproductive opportunities in non-natal groups. In the cooperatively breeding Southern pied babbler, Turdoides bicolor, most individuals who achieve reproductive success do so through taking up dominant breeding positions within non-natal groups. For subordinate pied babblers therefore, searching for breeding opportunities in non-natal groups is of primary importance as this represents the major route to reproductive success. However, prospecting (where individuals leave the group to search for reproductive opportunities within other groups) is costly and individuals rapidly lose weight when not part of a group. Here we demonstrate that subordinate pied babblers adopt an alternative strategy for mate attraction by vocal advertisement from within their natal territories. We show that subordinates focus their calling efforts on the edges of their territory, and specifically near boundaries with neighbouring groups that have potential breeding partners (unrelated individuals of the opposite sex). In contrast to prospecting, calling individuals showed no body mass loss associated with this behaviour, suggesting that calling from within the group may provide a 'cheap' advertisement strategy. Additionally, we show that subordinates use information regarding the composition of neighbouring groups to target the greatest number of potential mating partners. © 2015 Humphries et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

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