The association between evidence of a predator threat and responsiveness to alarm calls in Western Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen dorsalis)

Annabel Silvestri, Kate Morgan, Amanda R. Ridley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Alarm calls are a widespread form of antipredator defence and being alerted to the presence of predators by the alarm calls of conspecifics is considered one of the benefits of group living. However, while social information can allow an individual to gain additional information, it can also at times be inaccurate or irrelevant. Such variation in the accuracy of social information is predicted to select for receivers to discriminate between sources of social information. In this study, we used playback experiments to determine whether Western Australian magpies (Cracticus tibicen dorsalis) respond to the predator information associated with alarm calls. Magpies were exposed to the alarm calls of two group members that differed in the threat associated with the alarm call: One call was played in the presence of a predator model while the other was not-in order to establish differences in the predator information provided by each caller. We then played back the alarm calls of the same group members in the absence of the predator model to determine whether magpies responded differently to signallers in response to the previous association between the alarm call and a predator threat. We found that receivers showed significantly greater levels of responsiveness to signallers that previously gave alarm calls in the appropriate context. Thus, the accuracy of threat-based information influenced subsequent receiver response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7572
JournalPEERJ
Volume2019
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

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