Experimental vacancies do not induce settlement despite habitat saturation in a cooperative breeder

Brouwer, Lyanne, and Cockburn, Andrew (2020) Experimental vacancies do not induce settlement despite habitat saturation in a cooperative breeder. Biology Letters, 16 (3). 20190757.

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The paradox of cooperative breeding, whereby individuals assist others instead of reproducing independently, is generally explained through ecological constraints, but experimental evidence is scant. Here we performed the crucial test of the role of habitat saturation through the experimental creation of vacancies and found that, despite abundant presence of potential mates, subordinates are reluctant to disperse into suitable vacant habitat where conspecifics are absent. We argue that sudden disappearance of multiple group members might indicate a heightened risk of predation. Thereby the results of this study are consistent with the 'perceptual trap' hypothesis: The avoidance of habitats because cues do not accurately reflect their quality. Interestingly, this hypothesis can also explain previous findings, which were widely interpreted as evidence for ecological constraints as a driver of cooperative breeding. Our results can have considerable implications for conservation as they mean that opportunities for colonization might go unexploited.

Item ID: 71427
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1744-957X
Keywords: Ecological constraints, Ecological trap, Malurus, Perceptual trap
Copyright Information: © 2020 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC DE130100174, ARC DP0451018, ARC DP1092565
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2022 02:36
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3104 Evolutionary biology > 310408 Life histories @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310307 Population ecology @ 20%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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