A review of conspecific attraction for habitat selection across taxa

Valerie L. Buxton, Janice K. Enos, Jinelle H. Sperry, Michael P. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many species across taxa select habitat based on conspecific presence, known as conspecific attraction. Studies that document conspecific attraction typically provide social information (i.e., cues that indicate the presence of a given species) and then determine if a given species is more likely to settle at locations where the social information is provided compared to those locations that do not. Although the number of studies examining conspecific attraction has grown in recent years, a comprehensive review has not yet been undertaken. Here, we conducted a review of the literature and found 151 studies investigating conspecific attraction across eight taxa. We found that conspecific attraction is widespread with between 80% and 100% of studies, depending on taxa, documenting positive associations between habitat selection and the presence of conspecific cues. Conspecific attraction has been documented more frequently in bird and fish species with less attention given to invertebrate and mammal species. We use the patterns we found to (a) provide an overview of the current state of research on conspecific attraction and (b) discuss how important factors, such as cue characteristics and life history traits, may play a role in shaping conspecific attraction patterns within and across taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12690-12699
Number of pages10
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • conspecific attraction
  • conspecific cue
  • habitat selection
  • social information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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