Food availability, intrusion pressure and territory size: an experimental study of Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna)

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Theoretical considerations implicate food availability and intrusion pressure as important determinants of territory size, but empirical studies have led to contradictory conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships among these three variables. To investigate this problem, we provided patches of electronically controlled artificial flowers, which were defended by male Calypte anna. Food availability was experimentally manipulated, and intrusion rate and territory size were calculated from behavioral observations of the territory owner. Changes in both food availability and intrusion rate were found to be significantly correlated with changes in territory size under certain conditions. Intrusion rate, which was influenced by food availability, was negatively associated with territory size so long as food availability was high. This association persisted even after possible effects of food availability were controlled statistically. Food availability was negatively correlated with territory size only when intrusion rates were high and after owners had been defending territories for 3 days. As food availability and intrusion rate increased, owners increasingly restricted their defense to the patch itself; partial regressions revealed a significant association for intrusion rate but not food availability. When intrusion rate was low and food availability varied from low to high levels, no relationship was observed between food availability and territory size, apparently because of opposing influences of food abundance on territory size. © 1994 Springer-Verlag.

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Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

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