“Nosy neighbours: (social) information use and decision-making in wild birds”
Individuals can reduce the uncertainty of life and make optimal decisions by gathering and utilizing information. Information use influences nearly all aspects of life with enormous consequences for individual fitness and population dynamics. Even though central to adaptation, little is known about information use and decision-making by animals in their natural habitats. For instance, how do individuals decide where to reproduce and how much to invest into reproduction? What are the consequences of such decisions? I will present our experimental work on individual breeding habitat decisions in predictable and unpredictable environments: in wild pied flycatchers, jackdaws and zebra finches we investigate which kind of information individuals collect when visiting each other’s nests, how different information sources are combined when making breeding habitat decisions and which factors explain why some individuals are nosier than others. Detailed knowledge about information use is crucial for understanding animals’ responses to anthropogenic changes which can operate as information-disrupters.