Group effects and background color patterns affect the exploratory behavior of tree sparrows

Yen Min Kuo, Ya-Fu Lee, Wen Chen Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Exploratory behavior serves the function of acquiring information when facing environmental uncertainty, thus plays an important role for animals living on patchy or ephemeral resources. Our study tested the hypothesis that exploratory behavior is affected by ecological factors associated with the risk of predation. We conducted experiments to examine exploration behavior of wild-caught Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus) under the influences of background color patterns (white or camouflaged) and group sizes (single vs. five sparrows). We further conducted two-pattern choice experiments and offered sparrows backgrounds combining those two color patterns. In comparisons with single sparrows, flocking sparrows had shorter landing latencies, started exploring sand patches earlier, spent less total time on the ground before pecking at the first patch and nearly successfully located and pecked all patches. In contrast, sparrows responded nearly indifferently to the two single-pattern backgrounds; yet when given a choice, sparrows still favored the camouflaged portion in the two-pattern backgrounds and first landed more frequently there. Twice as many patches were left untouched on the twopattern backgrounds, mostly by single sparrows, than on both types of single- pattern backgrounds. In tests of flocks, sparrows that first landed on the ground to initiate exploration had a higher chance to also first explore a sand patch than random expectation on single-pattern backgrounds, but not necessarily on two-pattern backgrounds. Our results demonstrate context-specific effects of social exploration, suggest possible influence of individual variation and offer evidence for advantages of group living in situations where explorers have to cope with environmental uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1062-1072
Number of pages11
JournalEthology
Volume120
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1

Fingerprint

Passer montanus
Passeriformes
group effect
color
sand
individual variation
group size
predation
experiment
uncertainty
animal
resource
pecking
effect
flocks

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Kuo, Yen Min ; Lee, Ya-Fu ; Chu, Wen Chen. / Group effects and background color patterns affect the exploratory behavior of tree sparrows. In: Ethology. 2014 ; Vol. 120, No. 11. pp. 1062-1072.
@article{0f5443d1cf0948c092d232a97eb92ed1,
title = "Group effects and background color patterns affect the exploratory behavior of tree sparrows",
abstract = "Exploratory behavior serves the function of acquiring information when facing environmental uncertainty, thus plays an important role for animals living on patchy or ephemeral resources. Our study tested the hypothesis that exploratory behavior is affected by ecological factors associated with the risk of predation. We conducted experiments to examine exploration behavior of wild-caught Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus) under the influences of background color patterns (white or camouflaged) and group sizes (single vs. five sparrows). We further conducted two-pattern choice experiments and offered sparrows backgrounds combining those two color patterns. In comparisons with single sparrows, flocking sparrows had shorter landing latencies, started exploring sand patches earlier, spent less total time on the ground before pecking at the first patch and nearly successfully located and pecked all patches. In contrast, sparrows responded nearly indifferently to the two single-pattern backgrounds; yet when given a choice, sparrows still favored the camouflaged portion in the two-pattern backgrounds and first landed more frequently there. Twice as many patches were left untouched on the twopattern backgrounds, mostly by single sparrows, than on both types of single- pattern backgrounds. In tests of flocks, sparrows that first landed on the ground to initiate exploration had a higher chance to also first explore a sand patch than random expectation on single-pattern backgrounds, but not necessarily on two-pattern backgrounds. Our results demonstrate context-specific effects of social exploration, suggest possible influence of individual variation and offer evidence for advantages of group living in situations where explorers have to cope with environmental uncertainty.",
author = "Kuo, {Yen Min} and Ya-Fu Lee and Chu, {Wen Chen}",
year = "2014",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1111/eth.12279",
language = "English",
volume = "120",
pages = "1062--1072",
journal = "Ethology",
issn = "0179-1613",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "11",

}

Group effects and background color patterns affect the exploratory behavior of tree sparrows. / Kuo, Yen Min; Lee, Ya-Fu; Chu, Wen Chen.

In: Ethology, Vol. 120, No. 11, 01.01.2014, p. 1062-1072.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Group effects and background color patterns affect the exploratory behavior of tree sparrows

AU - Kuo, Yen Min

AU - Lee, Ya-Fu

AU - Chu, Wen Chen

PY - 2014/1/1

Y1 - 2014/1/1

N2 - Exploratory behavior serves the function of acquiring information when facing environmental uncertainty, thus plays an important role for animals living on patchy or ephemeral resources. Our study tested the hypothesis that exploratory behavior is affected by ecological factors associated with the risk of predation. We conducted experiments to examine exploration behavior of wild-caught Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus) under the influences of background color patterns (white or camouflaged) and group sizes (single vs. five sparrows). We further conducted two-pattern choice experiments and offered sparrows backgrounds combining those two color patterns. In comparisons with single sparrows, flocking sparrows had shorter landing latencies, started exploring sand patches earlier, spent less total time on the ground before pecking at the first patch and nearly successfully located and pecked all patches. In contrast, sparrows responded nearly indifferently to the two single-pattern backgrounds; yet when given a choice, sparrows still favored the camouflaged portion in the two-pattern backgrounds and first landed more frequently there. Twice as many patches were left untouched on the twopattern backgrounds, mostly by single sparrows, than on both types of single- pattern backgrounds. In tests of flocks, sparrows that first landed on the ground to initiate exploration had a higher chance to also first explore a sand patch than random expectation on single-pattern backgrounds, but not necessarily on two-pattern backgrounds. Our results demonstrate context-specific effects of social exploration, suggest possible influence of individual variation and offer evidence for advantages of group living in situations where explorers have to cope with environmental uncertainty.

AB - Exploratory behavior serves the function of acquiring information when facing environmental uncertainty, thus plays an important role for animals living on patchy or ephemeral resources. Our study tested the hypothesis that exploratory behavior is affected by ecological factors associated with the risk of predation. We conducted experiments to examine exploration behavior of wild-caught Eurasian tree sparrows (Passer montanus) under the influences of background color patterns (white or camouflaged) and group sizes (single vs. five sparrows). We further conducted two-pattern choice experiments and offered sparrows backgrounds combining those two color patterns. In comparisons with single sparrows, flocking sparrows had shorter landing latencies, started exploring sand patches earlier, spent less total time on the ground before pecking at the first patch and nearly successfully located and pecked all patches. In contrast, sparrows responded nearly indifferently to the two single-pattern backgrounds; yet when given a choice, sparrows still favored the camouflaged portion in the two-pattern backgrounds and first landed more frequently there. Twice as many patches were left untouched on the twopattern backgrounds, mostly by single sparrows, than on both types of single- pattern backgrounds. In tests of flocks, sparrows that first landed on the ground to initiate exploration had a higher chance to also first explore a sand patch than random expectation on single-pattern backgrounds, but not necessarily on two-pattern backgrounds. Our results demonstrate context-specific effects of social exploration, suggest possible influence of individual variation and offer evidence for advantages of group living in situations where explorers have to cope with environmental uncertainty.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84908485107&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84908485107&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/eth.12279

DO - 10.1111/eth.12279

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84908485107

VL - 120

SP - 1062

EP - 1072

JO - Ethology

JF - Ethology

SN - 0179-1613

IS - 11

ER -