Migratory New World Blackbirds (Icterids) Are More Neophobic than Closely Related Resident Icterids

Mettke-Hofmann, Claudia; Winkler, Hans; Hamel, Paul B.; Greenberg, Russell
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Environments undergo short-term and long-term changes due to natural or human-induced events. Animals differ in their ability to cope with such changes which can be related to their ecology. Changes in the environment often elicit avoidance reactions (neophobia) which protect animals from dangerous situations but can also inhibit exploration and familiarization with novel situations and thus, learning about new resources. Studies investigating the relationship between a species’ ecology and its neophobia have so far been restricted to comparing only a few species and mainly in captivity. The current study investigated neophobia reactions to experimentally-induced changes in the natural environment of six closely-related blackbird species (Icteridae), including two species represented by two distinct populations. For analyses, neophobic reactions (difference in number of birds feeding and time spent feeding with and without novel objects) were related to several measures of ecological plasticity and the migratory strategy (resident or migratory) of the population. Phylogenetic relationships were incorporated into the analysis. The degree of neophobia was related to migratory strategy with migrants expressing much higher neophobia (fewer birds feeding and for a shorter time with objects present) than residents. Furthermore, neophobia showed a relationship to diet breadth with fewer individuals of diet generalists than specialists returning when objects were present supporting the dangerous niche hypothesis. Residents may have evolved lower neophobia as costs of missing out on opportunities may be higher for residents than migrants as the former are restricted to a smaller area. Lower neophobia allows them approaching changes in the environment (e.g. novel objects) quickly, thereby securing access to resources. Additionally, residents have a greater familiarity with similar situations in the area than migrants and the latter may, therefore, initially stay behind resident species.


Related Articles

  • Streambed microstructure predicts evolution of development and life history mode in the plethodontid salamander Eurycea tynerensis. Bonett, Ronald M.; Chippindale, Paul T. // BMC Biology;2006, Vol. 4, p1 

    Background: Habitat variation strongly influences the evolution of developmentally flexible traits, and may drive speciation and diversification. The plethodontid salamander Eurycea tynerensis is endemic to the geologically diverse Ozark Plateau of south-central North America, and comprises both...

  • Niche evolution in Australian terrestrial mammals? Clarifying scale-dependencies in phylogenetic and functional drivers of co-occurrence. Bino, Gilad; Ramp, Daniel; Kingsford, Richard T. // Evolutionary Ecology;Nov2013, Vol. 27 Issue 6, p1159 

    Interactive forces between competition and habitat filtering drive many biogeographic patterns over evolutionary time scales. However, the responsiveness of assemblages to these two forces is highly influenced by spatial scale, forming complex patterns of niche separation. We explored these...

  • Comparative Phyloclimatic Analysis and Evolution of Ecological Niches in the Scimitar Babblers (Aves: Timaliidae: Pomatorhinus). Nyári, Árpád S.; Reddy, Sushma // PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1 

    We present the first extensive and integrative analysis of niche evolution based on climatic variables and a dated molecular phylogeny of a heterogeneous avian group of Southeast Asian scimitar babblers of the genus Pomatorhinus. The four main clades of scimitar babblers have species that...

  • A Phylogenetic Perspective on the Individual Species-Area Relationship in Temperate and Tropical Tree Communities Yang, Jie; Swenson, Nathan G.; Cao, Min; Chuyong, George B.; Ewango, Corneille E. N.; Howe, Robert; Kenfack, David; Thomas, Duncan; Wolf, Amy; Lin, Luxiang // PLoS ONE;May2013, Vol. 8 Issue 5, p1 

    Ecologists have historically used species-area relationships (SARs) as a tool to understand the spatial distribution of species. Recent work has extended SARs to focus on individual-level distributions to generate individual species area relationships (ISARs). The ISAR approach quantifies...

  • Evolutionary Divergence in Brain Size between Migratory and Resident Birds. Sol, Daniel; Garcia, Núria; Iwaniuk, Andrew; Davis, Katie; Meade, Andrew; Boyle, W. Alice; Székely, Tamás // PLoS ONE;2010, Vol. 5 Issue 3, p1 

    Despite important recent progress in our understanding of brain evolution, controversy remains regarding the evolutionary forces that have driven its enormous diversification in size. Here, we report that in passerine birds, migratory species tend to have brains that are substantially smaller...

  • Detecting Non-Brownian Trait Evolution in Adaptive Radiations. Freckleton, Robert P.; Harvey, Paul H. // PLoS Biology;Nov2006, Vol. 4 Issue 11, p2104 

    Many phylogenetic comparative methods that are currently widely used in the scientific literature assume a Brownian motion model for trait evolution, but the suitability of that model is rarely tested, and a number of important factors might affect whether this model is appropriate or not. For...

  • Marine plankton phenology and life history in a changing climate: current research and future directions. JI, RUBAO; EDWARDS, MARTIN; MACKAS, DAVID L.; RUNGE, JEFFREY A.; THOMAS, ANDREW C. // Journal of Plankton Research;Oct2010, Vol. 32 Issue 10, p1355 

    Increasing availability and extent of biological ocean time series (from both in situ and satellite data) have helped reveal significant phenological variability of marine plankton. The extent to which the range of this variability is modified as a result of climate change is of obvious...

  • Structure of a Caatinga anuran assemblage in Northeastern Brazil. Filho, Edinaldo Leite; da Silva Vieira, Washington Luiz; Santana, Gindomar Gomes; Eloi, Felipe Jardelino; Mesquita, Daniel Oliveira // Neotropical Biology & Conservation;May-Aug2015, Vol. 10 Issue 2, p63 

    Based on data on diet and microhabitat use, we investigated the importance of current (ecological) and historical factors (phylogenetic) in the organization of an anuran assemblage in temporary ponds in a Caatinga area in Northeastern Brazil. The objective of this study was to verify how diet...

  • Scale-Freeness and Biological Networks. Arita, Masanori // Journal of Biochemistry;Jul2005, Vol. 138 Issue 1, p1 

    The notion of scale-freeness and its prevalence in both natural and artificial networks have recently attracted much attention. The concept of scale-freeness is enthusiastically applied to almost any conceivable network, usually with affirmative conclusions. Well-known scale-free examples...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics