Public Information and Breeding Habitat Selection in a Wild Bird Population

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Science  16 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5584, pp. 1168-1170
DOI: 10.1126/science.1072838

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According to the “public information” hypothesis, some animal species may monitor the current reproductive success of conspecifics to assess local habitat quality and to choose their own subsequent breeding site. To test this hypothesis experimentally, we manipulated two components of public information, the mean number of offspring raised locally (“quantity”) and their condition (“quality”), in the collared flycatcher Ficedula albicollis. Immigration rate decreased with local offspring quantity but did not depend on local offspring quality, suggesting that immigrants are deprived of information regarding local quality. Conversely, emigration rate increased both when local offspring quantity or quality decreased, suggesting that residents can use both components of public information.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. Institute of Zoology, Department of Evolutionary Ecology, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 6, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland. E-mail: blandine.doligez{at}

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