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Effect of Willow Tit Poecile montanus alarm calls on attack rates by Pygmy Owls Glaucidium passerinum

Authors

  • Santtu Kareksela,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
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  • Oskari Härmä,

    1. Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    Current affiliation:
    1. Section of Ecology,, Department of Biology,, University of Turku,, Turku, Finland
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  • Carita Lindstedt,

    1. Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    2. Center of Excellence in Biological Interactions, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
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  • Heli Siitari,

    1. Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
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  • Jukka Suhonen

    1. Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    Current affiliation:
    1. Section of Ecology,, Department of Biology,, University of Turku,, Turku, Finland
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Corresponding author.

Email: santtu.kareksela@jyu.fi

Abstract

One suggested anti-predator function of alarm calls is to deliver a message to a predator that it has been detected. Moreover, giving the alarm call could provide a signal to the predator that capturing the individual giving the alarm is more difficult than capturing its silent group members, as the caller is probably the most aware of the predator's location. In an aviary experiment using stuffed dummy Willow Tits Poecile montanus, we assessed whether an authentic alarm call given by Willow Tit affected Pygmy Owl Glaucidium passerinum prey preference. In the experiment, the Owls attacked only the ‘silent’ dummy individuals, suggesting that alarm calling could offer direct fitness benefits to the caller by decreasing the attack risk of the caller relative to its group members.

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