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Communication Strategies of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets

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The courtship display repertoires of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets contain 80 to 90% homologous displays. The species have similar requirements for nest defense and pair-formation and nest side-by-side in colonies where their signal transmission problems are presumably identical. Yet they exhibit differences in display form, variability, repertoire usage, contexts, sequencing, signaling rates, pairbond durability, and morphology associated with communication. It is proposed that these 2 species have evolved different communication strategies (different combinations of signal design features) to reach essentially the same goal of pair-formation. Great Blue Herons apparently use relatively enriched signals that they send slowly while Great Egrets use discrete signals that are sent rapidly with some sequencing.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology and Behavioral Biology, J. F. Bell Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, U.S.A.

10.1163/156853980X00096
/content/journals/10.1163/156853980x00096
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1980-01-01
2016-12-03

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