Heterospecific rival recognition in Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)

Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) Science Article 4


It has long been hypothesized that birds learn to recognize heterospecific competitors and for that reason males behave more aggressivelyagainst intruders in areas of local sym- patry.Recently,ithasbeenconfirmedthatindividualsofonespeciesareabletolearnspe- cies-specific visual and acoustic characteristics of heterospecific rivals and that theyare able to remember these associations. Here, we test hypotheses about the importance of learning in interspecific interactions, long-term memoryof species-specific traits and earlytiming of this learning to the post-fledging period in the Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros). We show that Black Redstart males respond to playbacks of Redstart(P.phoenicurus)onlyintheareaswherethetwospeciescomeintoclosecontact. This result demonstrates that Black Redstart males learn individuallyto recognize the ri- val species in areas of local coexistence. Black Redstart males responded in heterospeci- fic experiments before the arrival of Redstarts from wintering grounds. This means that birds are able to retain the memoryof specific traits of heterospecific competitors to the next breeding season. Moreover, yearling and older males, which differ in plumage colouration, responded in heterospecific experiments with the same frequencyand inten- sity. This result indicates that young males learn to recognize Redstarts in the post-fledg- ing period before a first contact with heterospecific rivals in a territorial context

Sedlacek, B. Cikanova & R. Fuchs, Ornis Fennica 83:153-161. 2006

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