Correlation between boldness and aggression of urban and rural song sparrows

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rachel Elizabeth Myers (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Jeremy Hyman

Abstract: A behavioral syndrome is the term used to describe suites of correlated behaviors in animals. One behavioral syndrome that has been the focus of many studies is the correlation of aggressive and bold behaviors. Previous studies in song sparrows have found a correlation between territorial aggressiveness and boldness towards humans in rural populations, but not within urban populations. However, boldness was measured as flight initiation distance (FID) in response to humans. Recording flight initiation distance is a common measurement for assessing boldness in birds, but rural birds are not accustomed to humans and so respond to their presence much like they would to a predator. It was hypothesized that song sparrows in urban areas had become habituated to human presence thus a new method to record boldness was required. Playbacks of alarm calls were used to elicit a boldness response. Data were collected from 25 birds from both an urban and a rural site for a total of 50 test subjects. FID trials, Carolina wren alarm call playbacks, and male conspecific song playbacks were conducted on each bird. Results showed that urban birds were bolder in response to alarm call playback as well as human presence. Boldness and aggression were correlated in rural birds with each method of measuring boldness but only in urban birds when using alarm call playback studies. This suggests that there is a behavioral syndrome between these behaviors but that some flexibility exists in urban birds.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Aggression, Behavioral syndrome, Boldness, Rural, Song sparrow, Urban
Song sparrow -- Behavior
Aggressive behavior in animals

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