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 Birds of a Feather

Social information influences black-and-white warbler habitat prospecting behavior 

Monday, March 13, 2017
5:15 pm, AA-G008
Justin Mann, Biology, Binghamton University



Justin Mann and Anne B. Clark



In migratory songbirds, the selection of high quality breeding habitat requires an accurate assessment of the relevant environmental characteristics in limited time. By utilizing social information (i.e. the presence of singing conspecifics), birds can potentially shorten their habitat selection process by prospecting near earlier-arriving or more experienced individuals, thereby avoiding some of the costs of personally collecting information regarding the local environment. To test this hypothesis, we broadcast black-and-white warbler (Mniotilta varia) songs at sites where that species was not observed during the previous year’s baseline surveys. To analyze the relative influence of personal and social information on habitat prospecting behavior, we conducted the experiment at two forested locations with significant differences in vegetation characteristics. Overall, we found black-and-white warblers were significantly more likely to prospect at sites receiving experimental treatment than at control sites.



Justin Mann grew up in the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania. At a young age his parents introduced him to the joys of birdwatching, a hobby which quickly developed into a passion. Justin is currently a PhD student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program in the Department of Biological Sciences at Binghamton University, where he is studying the behavioral ecology of birdsong. He lives in Endwell, New York with his wife and three children. 


David Sloan Wilson, Director

Susan Ryan, EvoS Coordinator

Last Updated: 12/4/20