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THE EFFECT OF HANDLING TIME ON INTERFERENCE AMONG HOUSE SPARROWS FORAGING AT DIFFERENT SEED DENSITIES

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Interference models of the ideal free distribution (IFD) assume competition among foraging animals causes intake rates to decline with increasing competitor density and that the strength of the decline influences forager distributions among food patches. However, the resulting distributions of animals may depend on which components of foraging success contribute to interference. We examined the effect of group size (1-13 birds) on the prey encounter rates, handling times, and foraging rates of house sparrows, Passer domesticus, feeding at three seed densities in a suburban backyard. House sparrows did not experience interference during search. Interference arose primarily from foraging time lost handling seeds. Foraging rates decreased with increasing seed density as a consequence of increased handling times. Also, birds experiencing significant increases in handling time with group size suffered most from interference. Our results suggest that animals adjust handling time to avoid costly aggressive interactions, indicating that handling time may be an important component of interference in some foraging systems. Future studies estimating interference should try to identify which components of foraging contribute to interference, paying particular attention to handling times for species that monitor and avoid competitors.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West, Montréal Québec, H3G 1M8, Canada

10.1163/156853901316924494
/content/journals/10.1163/156853901316924494
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/content/journals/10.1163/156853901316924494
2001-05-01
2016-12-08

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