Thursday, July 12, 2012

Survival tactics through false alarm calls

A recent study by Dr. Tom Flower, from the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute, was  the first to investigate the benefits animals gain from making false alarm calls.  Conflict is common when animals compete for scarce resources such as food or  mates and it can be costly, sometimes resulting in injury or death. One way to avoid conflicts is to scare away competitors through the use of false alarm calls, thus allowing the user to maintain resources through deception rather than aggression. He studied the Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsilis of the Southern Kalahari, a bird renowned for its its aggressive behaviour, harassing predators and stealing from other birds. His study showed that false alarm calls both reduce costs and increase success in competition. More generally, animals have evolved a number of strategies to reduce costly conflict for resources. The full article is available in the latest issue of Africa Birds and Birding in the ORI Library.

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