Individuals in foraging groups may use vocal cues when assessing their need for anti-predator vigilance

Andrew N. Radford, Amanda R. Ridley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Many studies of social species have reported variation in the anti-predator vigilance behaviour of foraging individuals depending on the presence and relative position of other group members. However, little attention has focused on how foragers assess these variables. It is commonly assumed that they do so visually, but many social species produce frequent calls while foraging, and these 'close' calls might provide valuable spatial information. Here, we show that foraging pied babblers (Turdoides bicolor) are less vigilant when in larger groups, in the centre of a group and in closer proximity to another group member. We then show that foragers are less vigilant during playbacks of close calling by more individuals and individuals on either side of them when compared with calls of fewer individuals and calls on one side of them. These results suggest that foragers can use vocal cues to gain information on group size and their spatial position within a group. Future studies of anti-predator vigilance should consider the relative importance of both visual and vocal monitoring of group members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-252
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2007


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