The influence of flock size and geometry on the scanning behaviour of spotted turtle doves, Streptopelia chinensis

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Abstract

Abstract The negative correlation between the time individuals spend scanning the environment for predators and group size is usually explained by the benefit of corporate vigilance. However, this negative correlation may be explained additionally in terms of the ‘dilution effect’ and ‘selfish herd geometry’. Our experimental investigation of the scanning behaviour of free-living spotted turtle doves foraging at different shaped feeders revealed that flock geometry influenced individual scanning rates. The time spent scanning declined with group size less rapidly among birds foraging in linear flocks than among those foraging in more two-dimensional flocks. These results were not confounded by aggressive behaviour, and indicate that the benefits of foraging in groups include the so-called selfish herd geometry.

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