New article: Density dependence and habitat quality modulate the intensity of display territory defence in little bustard males

In this new article published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, we evaluated the effect of conspecific abundance and habitat quality of leks on the territorial behaviour of males in an exploded lekking species, the Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax). The hypothesis that males more intensely defend territories with higher conspecific abundance and better habitat quality was evaluated experimentally analysing the agonistic response of experimental males to male decoys placed on their displaying areas. Decoy experiments showed that the intensity of display territory defence by little bustard males is density dependent. The strength of their final response was positively associated to local male and female abundance in the vicinity of their display sites. Habitat quality also influenced males’ display territory defence since the intensity of male response increased with the degree of natural vegetation cover.
These results add new evidence for the density dependence of species’ breeding territorial behaviour, supporting density-dependent models of lek formation and reinforcing the role of resources defence in exploded lek mating systems.
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