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Timing of Prospecting and the Value of Information in a Colonial Breeding Bird

Thierry Boulinier, Etienne Danchin, Jean-Yves Monnat, Claire Doutrelant and Bernard Cadiou
Journal of Avian Biology
Vol. 27, No. 3 (Sep., 1996), pp. 252-256
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3677230
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3677230
Page Count: 5
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Timing of Prospecting and the Value of Information in a Colonial Breeding Bird
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Abstract

We investigated if one category of birds, prospectors, i.e. those likely to seek future breeding sites, attempt to gather information on the local reproductive success of their conspecifics. If prospecting is an important information-gathering process, it should occur when reliable estimation of the local reproductive success can be made. We tested this prediction in a colonial seabird, the Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, by monitoring the number of prospectors and the value of the information available on local reproductive success in a series of breeding cliffs during two breeding seasons. We found that the bulk of prospecting occurred when the best information on local reproductive success was available. The pattern was very similar in the two study years (1985 and 1992); prospecting occurred late in the season, as reported for most bird species. This result is consistent with the potential use of conspecific reproductive success as a proximate cue for habitat selection.

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