The coexistence of species with overlapping resource needs is traditionally though to be limited by negative processes, such as interspecific competition. However, recent evidence suggests that species interactions may vary qualitatively. One potential case of positive interspecific interactions is heterospecific attraction in breeding forest birds. Heterospecific attraction is a habitat selection strategy in which migrant birds use resident tits (Paris sop.) as cues for profitable breeding habitats. However, the benefits, and interactions, obtained by migrants may depend on the density of tits. The aims of this proposed project are to study experimentally at different spatial scales the effects of different tit densities on the habitat selection and fitness of a migrant bird, the collared flycatcher (Facedly albicollis) and other breeding birds. Firstly, at the landscape scale, I will examine the habitat selection of flycatchers and its fitness consequences in relation to different densities of tits. Secondly, at the nest-site scale, I will examine whether flycatchers gain fitness benefits through social interactions by breeding in the neighbourhood of a tit and do the cost-benefit-ratio vary with the number of neighbouring tits. Thirdly, I will examine do flycatchers use the onset of egg laying and the clutch size of tits as a cue for the quality of the habitat and/or their own decisions for reproductive investment. The results of this project will offer a novel way to consider species coexistence and interspecific interactions; interactions may vary depending on the trade-offs between benefits and costs. Heterospecific individuals are not only competitors, but they can be used to gather crucial information from the environment. The processes studied here are important for individual fitness and the results have implications on population and community ecology, which have a crucial role in conservation biology in fragmented landscapes.
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