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From Nestling Calls to Fledgling Silence: Adaptive Timing of Change in Response to Aerial Alarm Calls

Robert D. Magrath, Dirk Platzen and Junko Kondo
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 273, No. 1599 (Sep. 22, 2006), pp. 2335-2341
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25223607
Page Count: 7
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From Nestling Calls to Fledgling Silence: Adaptive Timing of Change in Response to Aerial Alarm Calls
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Abstract

Young birds and mammals are extremely vulnerable to predators and so should benefit from responding to parental alarm calls warning of danger. However, young often respond differently from adults. This difference may reflect: (i) an imperfect stage in the gradual development of adult behaviour or (ii) an adaptation to different vulnerability. Altricial birds provide an excellent model to test for adaptive changes with age in response to alarm calls, because fledglings are vulnerable to a different range of predators than nestlings. For example, a flying hawk is irrelevant to a nestling in a enclosed nest, but is dangerous to that individual once it has left the nest, so we predict that young develop a response to aerial alarm calls to coincide with fledging. Supporting our prediction, recently fledged white-browed scrubwrens, Sericornis frontalis, fell silent immediately after playback of their parents' aerial alarm call, whereas nestlings continued to calling despite hearing the playback. Young scrubwrens are therefore exquisitely adapted to the changing risks faced during development.

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