Is it interspecific information use or aggression between putative competitors that steers the selection of nest-site characteristics? A reply to Slagsvold and Wiebe
Forsman, J. T., Seppänen, J.-T., Mönkkönen, M., Thomson, R. L., Kivelä, S. M., Krams, I., & Loukola, O. J. (2018). Is it interspecific information use or aggression between putative competitors that steers the selection of nest-site characteristics? A reply to Slagsvold and Wiebe. Journal of Avian Biology, 49 (3), jav-01558. doi:10.1111/jav.01558
Published inJournal of Avian Biology
© 2017 Authors. Journal of Avian Biology. © 2017 Nordic Society Oikos. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Nordic Society Oikos. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
A growing number of studies have demonstrated that heterospeciﬁc individuals with overlapping resource needs – putative competitors – can provide information to each other that improves the outcomes of decisions. Our studies using cavity nesting resident tits (information provider) and migratory ﬂycatchers (Ficedula spp., information user) have shown that selective interspeciﬁc information use (SIIU) can result in ﬂycatchers copying and rejecting the apparent nest-site feature preferences of tits, depending on a perceivable ﬁtness correlate (clutch size) of the tits. ese, and other results on the interspeciﬁc information use, challenge the predictions of traditional theory of species coexistence. Recently, Slagsvold and Wiebe (2017) proposed an alternative hypothesis, the owner aggression hypothesis (OAH), to explain our results. eir main points of critique are: 1) a lack of evidence that ﬂycatchers make visits into tit nests prior to nesting and 2) ﬂycatchers do not have an ability to assess tit clutch size. According to Slagsvold and Wiebe, interspeciﬁc aggression between tits and ﬂycatchers, not infor-mation use, is the mechanism explaining our results. In this reply we show that part of Slagsvold and Wiebe’s criticism is based on mischaracterization of the assumptions of SIIU, resulting in misinterpretations of our results. We also provide new evidence that ﬂycatchers (mostly males) frequently visit tit nests prior to settlement and can acquire information about tit clutch size and thereby on the quality of the tutoring tit individ-ual and its decisions. In short, as intriguing as OAH is, we suggest that 1) some of the assumptions are highly speculative and lack evidence, while 2) our earlier experiment (Loukola et al. 2013) has clearly demonstrated the importance of the visible clutch size of tits for ﬂycatcher decisions. erefore, SIIU can more parsimoniously than OAH explain the behaviour of ﬂycatchers. ...