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Great tits ( Parus major ) adequately respond to both allopatric combinatorial mobbing calls and their isolated parts

Ambre Salis 1 Jean-Paul Léna 1 Thierry Lengagne 1
1 E2C - Équipe 4 - Écophysiologie, Comportement, Conservation
LEHNA - Laboratoire d'Ecologie des Hydrosystèmes Naturels et Anthropisés
Abstract : When mobbing a predator, birds often produce specific mobbing calls that are efficient in recruiting both conspecifics and heterospecifics. Recent studies on Parids have demonstrated that these mobbing calls are in fact a combination of two distinct calls-first, introductory notes eliciting vigilance in the receiver, then broadband frequency notes (D notes) triggering approach. Debates on a parallel between human syntax and this form of combination have emerged. The degree to which this combinatoriality is perceived in heterospecific communication may shed light onto the relative complexity of such combinatoriality. In this study, our aim was to determine whether European great tits (Parus major) appropriately responded to mobbing calls (and their isolated parts) of an allopatric species, the black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), a North-American species which produces similar combinatorial mobbing calls. In addition, we tested whether the behavioural response to complete mobbing sequences was different than the simple sum of its two constituents. As we hypothesized, great tits behaved differently when hearing the two isolated calls or the complete mobbing sequence: they produced calls and displayed excitement signs only towards the complete mobbing sequence. Moreover, great tits responded to the introductory and D notes by respectively scanning and approaching, and to the complete sequence by mobbing. Our results altogether support the emerging hypothesis of semantic compositionality in Parids, although the present study does not definitively demonstrate the existence of this cognitive process in the great tit.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 5, 2021 - 4:29:20 PM
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Ambre Salis, Jean-Paul Léna, Thierry Lengagne. Great tits ( Parus major ) adequately respond to both allopatric combinatorial mobbing calls and their isolated parts. Ethology, Wiley, 2021, 127 (3), pp.213-222. ⟨10.1111/eth.13111⟩. ⟨hal-03062436⟩

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