Artificially Inducing a Plant and Animal Mutualism: A Novel Approach to Filling a Niche [poster]

Sean E. MacDonald, Jinelle H. Sperry, Michael P. Ward

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Birds select habitat based upon a combination of direct resource cues and indirect social cues (i.e. presence of conspecifics). Conspecific attraction is the tendency for individuals of the same species to settle near one another and is a behavior that has been successfully exploited by conservation practitioners to augment colonial seabird and migratory songbird populations. Common methods of attracting avian conspecifics are visual (i.e. decoys) and audio cues (i.e. playback of song). Recently, there has been a growing body of literature surrounding social information and habitat selection in birds. Yet, knowledge in this area is still rudimentary and its application to conservation issues limited. To date, all studies on this topic only investigate the effects on bird populations and not the habitat they occupy. Therefore, we explored the effectiveness of enticing birds to consume fruit, thereby facilitating seed dispersal, of common and endangered plants using audio playback experiments.Our study was conducted from June 2016 – July 2017 across Oahu, Hawaii. We performed 77 playback experiments across 25 plant species using vocalizations from four resident bird species. The average number of birds that consumed fruit from a target plant per trial during the control period (no playback) was 0.13±0.08 and increased to 1.58±0.5 during the treatment period (playback). Strength of response appeared to be species-specific with nearly 90% of observed frugivory events occurring on common plants, and greater than 50% of the 996 frugivorous birds attracted during treatment periods consisting of Japanese white-eye. No statistical difference was detected between the breeding and non-breeding seasons. 30% of trials (23/77) resulted in frugivory from a target plant during treatments. Our results suggest that audio lures may be a practical tool for land managers to foster seed dispersal mutualisms between birds and plants. However, more research is needed to determine feasibility in other systems.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2018
Event2018 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference - Milwaukee, United States
Duration: Jan 28 2018Jan 31 2018
Conference number: 78


Conference2018 Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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