Life is highly uncertain. Individuals can reduce such uncertainty for making adaptive decisions by collecting information. Information can be collected from direct interactions with the environment (personal information) or from observing other individuals (social information). Information use underlies nearly all aspects of animal (and human) life, and therefore can be expected to have vast consequences on individual fitness and population dynamics. Yet, we currently lack an understanding of the relative importance of personal and social information use in the decision-making process, especially in the wild. The little knowledge we have got to date stems from breeding decisions of European species that face relatively predictable breeding environments arising from the seasonality in temperate zones. Information use and decision-making in more unpredictable environments has not received attention yet, although information use in breeding decisions can be expected to be quite different. Here, we propose to conduct a combination of lab and field experiments with opportunistically breeding zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, in Australia to address unresolved key issues in information ecology linked to unpredictable environmental conditions. In a series of experiments we will manipulate conspecific reproductive success on different scales and/or own reproductive success to assess how different information sources (social information: conspecific reproductive success; personal information: own reproductive success or own experience within the area) will influence whether individuals decide to breed in an area and/or how much to invest per breeding attempt. In the process we will elucidate how information use links events such as habitat selection, reproductive investment and dispersal. Given the expected far reaching ecological and evolutionary consequences of information use on all important aspects of life-history, the proposed study will not only be an important contribution to the field of information ecology but also to evolutionary biology, behavioural ecology, ecology and conservation biology.
- Dauer: 2015-2018
- Drittmittelgeber: DFG