Seabird Abstracts

Behavioural adaptations to high density nesting in the Common Guillemot, Uria aalge

Birkhead TR (1978) Anim Behav 26:321-331

Common guillemots characteristically nest in dense groups in close bodily contact. Behavioural adaptations to high density nesting were examined by comparing (i) the guillemot with the closely related razorbill, which nests at lower densities, and (ii) the behaviour of guillemots nesting at different densities. Guillemots perform active and passive appeasement displays more frequently at higher densities and more frequently than razorbills. Guillemots return to the colony 4 months earlier than razorbills and perform site-ownership displays more frequently. Extra-marital mounting is common among guillemots but not among razorbills. Guillemots are able to recognize their own egg but razorbills cannot. The size of each species' repertoire of social signals is related to their nesting dispersion and to the degree of intraspecific social contact.


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