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Importance of intraspecifically gregarious species in a tropical bird community

Sridhar, Hari and Shanker, Kartik (2014) Importance of intraspecifically gregarious species in a tropical bird community. In: OECOLOGIA, 176 (3). pp. 763-770.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1007/s00442-014-3045-0


In both single- and mixed-species social groups, certain participants are known to play important roles in providing benefits. Identifying these participants is critical for understanding group dynamics, but is often difficult with large roving social groups in the wild. Here, we develop a new approach to characterize roles in social groups and apply it to mixed-species bird flocks (flocks hereafter) in an Indian tropical evergreen forest. Two types of species, namely intraspecifically gregarious and sallying species, are thought to play important roles in flocks because studies have shown they attract other flock participants. However, it is unclear why these types are attractive and whether they are essential for flock formation. We address these questions by focusing on the composition of the subset of flocks containing only two species each. In two-species flocks, it is reasonable to assume that at least one species obtains some kind of benefit. Therefore, only those species combinations that result in benefit to at least one species should occur as two-species flocks. Using data from 540 flocks overall, of which 158 were two-species flocks, we find that intraspecifically gregarious species are disproportionately represented in two-species flocks and always lead flocks when present, and that flocks containing them are joined significantly more by other species. Our results suggest that intraspecifically gregarious species are likely to be the primary benefit providers in flocks and are important for tropical flock formation. Our study also provides a new approach to understanding importance in other mixed-species and single-species social groups.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: OECOLOGIA
Publisher: SPRINGER
Additional Information: Copyright for this article belongs to the SPRINGER, 233 SPRING ST, NEW YORK, NY 10013 USA
Keywords: Animal sociality; Facilitation; Leadership; Mixed-species flocks; Species importance
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2014 04:31
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2014 04:31
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/50476

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