Social information use and collective foraging in a pursuit diving seabird

Evans, J. C., Torney, C. J. , Votier, S. C. and Dall, S. R. X. (2019) Social information use and collective foraging in a pursuit diving seabird. PLoS ONE, 14(9), e0222600. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222600) (PMID:31545848)

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Abstract

Individuals of many species utilise social information whilst making decisions. While many studies have examined social information in making large scale decisions, there is increasing interest in the use of fine scale social cues in groups. By examining the use of these cues and how they alter behaviour, we can gain insights into the adaptive value of group behaviours. We investigated the role of social information in choosing when and where to dive in groups of socially foraging European shags. From this we aimed to determine the importance of social information in the formation of these groups. We extracted individuals’ surface trajectories and dive locations from video footage of collective foraging and used computational Bayesian methods to infer how social interactions influence diving. Examination of group spatial structure shows birds form structured aggregations with higher densities of conspecifics directly in front of and behind focal individuals. Analysis of diving behaviour reveals two distinct rates of diving, with birds over twice as likely to dive if a conspecific dived within their visual field in the immediate past. These results suggest that shag group foraging behaviour allows individuals to sense and respond to their environment more effectively by making use of social cues.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This project was funded by a studentship from the European Social Fund’s convergence programme.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Torney, Dr Colin
Creator Roles:
Torney, C. J.Formal analysis, Methodology, Visualization, Writing – original draft, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Evans, J. C., Torney, C. J., Votier, S. C., and Dall, S. R. X.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Mathematics and Statistics
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN:1932-6203
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Published Online:23 September 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 Evans et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS One 14(9):e0222600
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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