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Weak asymmetric interspecific aggression and divergent habitat preferences at an elevational contact zone between tropical songbirds

Jones, SEI; Tobias, JA; Freeman, R; Portugal, SJ; (2019) Weak asymmetric interspecific aggression and divergent habitat preferences at an elevational contact zone between tropical songbirds. Ibis 10.1111/ibi.12793. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Closely related tropical bird species often occupy mutually exclusive elevational ranges, but the mechanisms generating and maintaining this pattern remain poorly understood. One hypothesis is that replacement species are segregated by interference competition (e.g. territorial aggression), but the extent to which competition combines with other key factors such as specialization to distinct habitats remains little studied. Using vegetation surveys and reciprocal playback experiments, we explored the dynamics of interspecific aggression between two Nightingale‐Thrushes Catharus sp. in Central America. We show that lower‐elevation Black‐headed Nightingale‐Thrushes Catharus mexicanus are aggressive towards higher‐elevation Ruddy‐capped Nightingale‐Thrushes Catharus frantzii where they meet at contact zones. However, interspecific aggressive responses were weak and unidirectional, and the two species were associated with different habitats. We conclude that the contact zone is maintained and located primarily by habitat selection, and is probably reinforced by interspecific aggression. This has important implications for understanding how montane species will respond to climate change because the pace and extent of range shifts will not depend solely on habitat shifts or interspecific competition, but instead on interactions between these two factors.

Type: Article
Title: Weak asymmetric interspecific aggression and divergent habitat preferences at an elevational contact zone between tropical songbirds
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12793
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ibi.12793
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 The Authors. Ibis published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ornithologists' Union This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Catharus, ecotone, habitat preference, species interactions, territoriality, tropical mountains.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10092381
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