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Keywords:

  • residence;
  • dispersal;
  • vigilance behaviour;
  • site unfamiliarity;
  • dominance;
  • social foraging

Abstract

Determination of fitness differentials between individuals adopting different migratory and dispersal strategies is basic to understand the evolution of migration. In the Eurasian siskin Carduelis spinus, both resident and transient birds forage within the same wintering area, providing the rare opportunity to compare their foraging behaviour in the same area and habitat. The aim of this study was to test the predictions associated to the different hypothesized costs of transience by studying the vigilance and foraging behaviour of wild wintering siskins foraging at three bird tables with different predation risk and interference competition levels. Transient siskins showed longer scan durations than residents, either because of site unfamiliarity or subordination (i.e. prior-occupancy effect). However, residents and transients did not differ in aggression rates, contrary to the dear-enemy effect. Transient siskins did not show a higher allocation of time to vigilance, contrary to the hypothesis of compensation vigilance to reduce predation risk by dispersing animals. Moreover, transients increased pecking rate with increasing predation risk, showed lower scan rates, longer foraging bouts and, in males, presented marginally higher proportions far from cover. Altogether these results strongly support the hypothesis that transients incur a predation cost due to a less efficient vigilance and foraging system.