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Clever strategists: Australian Magpies vary mobbing strategies, not intensity, relative to different species of predator

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Author(s): A Koboroff | G Kaplan | LJ Rogers

Journal: PeerJ
ISSN 2167-8359

Volume: 1;
Start page: e56;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Risk assessment | Mobbing | Anti-predator behaviour | Australian Magpie

ABSTRACT
Anti-predator behaviour of magpies was investigated, using five species of model predators, at times of raising offspring. We predicted differences in mobbing strategies for each predator presented and also that raising juveniles would affect intensity of the mobbing event. Fourteen permanent resident family groups were tested using 5 different types of predator (avian and reptilian) known to be of varying degrees of risk to magpies and common in their habitat. In all, 210 trials were conducted (across three different stages of juvenile development). We found that the stage of juvenile development did not alter mobbing behaviour significantly, but predator type did. Aerial strategies (such as swooping) were elicited by taxidermic models of raptors, whereas a taxidermic model of a monitor lizard was approached on the ground and a model snake was rarely approached. Swooping patterns also changed according to which of the three raptors was presented. Our results show that, in contrast to findings in other species, magpies vary mobbing strategy depending on the predator rather than varying mobbing intensity.

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