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Biol Lett. 2010 Feb 23;6(1):42-4. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2009.0691. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

Group-foraging is not associated with longevity in North American birds.

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Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Montreal, PO Box 5000, St-Hyacinthe, Qu├ębec, Canada , J2S 7C6.


Group-foraging is common in many animal taxa and is thought to offer protection against predators and greater foraging efficiency. Such benefits may have driven evolutionary transitions from solitary to group-foraging. Greater protection against predators and greater access to resources should reduce extrinsic sources of mortality and thus select for higher longevity according to life-history theory. I assessed the association between group-foraging and longevity in a sample of 421 North American birds. Taking into account known correlates of longevity, such as age at first reproduction and body mass, foraging group size was not correlated with maximum longevity, with and without phylogenetic correction. However, longevity increased with body mass in non-passerine birds. The results suggest that the hypothesized changes in predation risk with group size may not correlate with mortality rate in foraging birds.

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