ABS 2022
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Manipulating food distribution alters social networks and information transmission in a food-caching bird
Virginia K Heinen1, Lauren M Benedict1, Benjamin R Sonnenberg1, Eli S Bridge2, Damien Farine3,4, Vladimir V Pravosudov1. 1University of Nevada Reno, Reno, NV, United States; 2University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, United States; 3University of Zurich, Zurich, , Switzerland; 4Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Konstanz, , Germany


Many animals use social information, but less is understood about how they form social networks, and how these networks influence social information use. We experimentally manipulated existing social networks in wild food-caching mountain chickadees by randomly dividing existing networks between two feeding locations. We manipulated networks at multiple sites at two montane elevations of different environmental harshness, where birds show differing use of social information. Following two weeks of network manipulation, we introduced novel feeders to test how the network restructuring affected information use. Chickadees at both elevations split their existing networks into two distinct communities during the manipulation. When subsequently discovering novel feeders, information transmission followed the new network structure at both elevations, though low elevation birds used social information more than high elevation birds. Our data show that chickadees can quickly adjust their network structure in response to changes in resource distribution, and that these changes influence their social information use.