The ecological benefits of interceptive eavesdropping
Article first published online: 19 AUG 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Functional Ecology © 2013 British Ecological Society
Special Issue: Climate change and species range shifts
Volume 28, Issue 1, pages 197–205, February 2014
How to Cite
Ridley, A. R., Wiley, E. M., Thompson, A. M. (2014), The ecological benefits of interceptive eavesdropping. Functional Ecology, 28: 197–205. doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12153
- Issue published online: 23 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 19 AUG 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 8 JUL 2013 05:44AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 3 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Received: 22 FEB 2013
- Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology
- ARC Future Fellowship
- eavesdropping behaviour;
- foraging niche expansion;
- interspecific interactions;
- pied babbler;
- sentinel behaviour
- Eavesdropping behaviour can increase the total amount of information available to an individual and therefore has the potential to provide substantial benefits. Recent research has suggested that some species are ‘information givers’, particularly social species with cooperative vigilance systems, and that these species may consequently affect community structure by influencing the behaviour and niche utilization of other species.
- Here, using behavioural observations and playback experiments, we compared the behavioural change in a solitary species (the scimitarbill) and a social species (the pied babbler), to the presence and alarm calls of one another.
- Our results revealed that scimitarbills underwent significant behavioural changes in the presence of social pied babblers: they reduced their vigilance rate by over 60%, increased their foraging efficiency and expanded their niche by moving into open habitat and excavating subterranean food items. In contrast, pied babblers – who have an effective intraspecific sentinel system – did not show significant behavioural changes to the presence or alarm calls of scimitarbills.
- These results suggest that interspecific interceptive eavesdropping can provide significant benefits, influencing the behaviour and habitat utilization of eavesdropping species.