Send to

Choose Destination
Am Nat. 2013 Oct;182(4):474-83. doi: 10.1086/671815. Epub 2013 Aug 23.

Observed fitness may affect niche overlap in competing species via selective social information use.

Author information

Department of Biology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland.


Social information transmission is important because it enables horizontal spread of behaviors, not only between conspecifics but also between individuals of different species. Because interspecific social information use is expected to take place among species with similar resource needs, it may have major consequences for the emergence of local adaptations, resource sharing, and community organization. Social information use is expected to be selective, but the conditions promoting it in an interspecific context are not well known. Here, we experimentally test whether pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) use the clutch size of great tits (Parus major) in determining the quality of the observed individual and use it as a basis of decision making. We show that pied flycatchers copied or rejected a novel nest site feature preference of great tits experimentally manipulated to exhibit high or low fitness (clutch size), respectively. Our results demonstrate that the social transmission of behaviors across species can be highly selective in response to observed fitness, plausibly making the phenomenon adaptive. In contrast with the current theory of species coexistence, overlap between realized niches of species could dynamically increase or decrease depending on the observed success of surrounding individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for University of Chicago Press
Loading ...
Support Center