Dominance-related foraging in female domesticated canaries under laboratory conditions

Parisot, M.; Nagle, L.; Vallet, E.; Kreutzer, M.
August 2004
Canadian Journal of Zoology;Aug2004, Vol. 82 Issue 8, p1246
Academic Journal
Many experiments have tested the foraging behaviours of birds relative to their social status. However, results are still not completely clear about the relationship between foraging behaviour and social status in birds. Some studies have shown that dominants use subordinates as food finders, while others show the opposite. Whether dominants search by themselves or wait to exploit the findings of a subordinate is still an unanswered question. For testing these alternative hypotheses, we carried out a laboratory experiment that used female common domesticated canaries, Serinus canaria (L., 1758). We used strict female flocks to avoid any bias based on pair bonds. We looked at the foraging behaviours of females relative to their social status using a foraging board. Our results showed that dominant females behaved as their own food finder. They began searching in the first position and had greater re-search behaviours, which allowed them to find seeds more rapidly than subordinates. Our study showed that foraging behaviour of dominants may be independent of the activities of subordinates. Our results also showed that there was no difference between the number of attacks received by dominants and subordinates when they were on the foraging board, which suggests that subordinates accessed the foraging board less frequently to avoid competition with dominants. We also suggest that environmental conditions may be one explanation for the differences observed among the different studies.


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