Do kleptoparasites reduce their own foraging effort in order to detect kleptoparasitic opportunities? An empirical test of a key assumption of kleptoparasitic models

RD Smith, GD Ruxton, Will Cresswell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Determining if, or when, individuals trade off time spent personally feeding against time spent monitoring others for kleptoparasitism opportunities is essential to an understanding of the evolution of scrounging and usurpation behaviours. We provide a first field test of whether kleptoparasites reduce their personal foraging effort in situations where the frequency and rewards of kleptoparasitism increase. We provided experimental food patches for wild European blackbirds that varied in the distribution of prey and that had a potentially high rate of kleptoparasitism within pairs of blackbirds feeding in them. Although individuals differed in their rate of kleptoparasitism, they did not vary in the size of the reward that they gained from kleptoparasitism. As prey became more clumped, kleptoparasitism rate and its reward per incident increased on average. There was, however, no evidence that individuals that were kleptoparasitising more quickly and/or at a higher frequency had lower personal foraging effort. In contrast, foraging effort increased in both birds compared to when they were foraging alone, independent of dominance, kleptoparasitic opportunity or reward. Our evidence suggests that in some circumstances a kleptoparasite can detect kleptoparasitic opportunities without compromising its own personal foraging rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-212
Number of pages8
JournalOikos
Volume97
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2002

Keywords

  • INTERFERENCE COMPETITION
  • TURDUS-MERULA
  • BLACKBIRDS
  • FLOCKING
  • STRATEGY
  • PREDATOR
  • DENSITY
  • BIRDS

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