Research needs and recommendations for the use of conspecificattraction methods in the conservation of migratory songbirds

Marissa A. Ahlering, Debora Arlt, Matthew G. Betts, Robert J. Fletcher, Joseph J. Nocera, Michael Patrick Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Abstract. Numerous studies have confirmed that when selecting habitat birds can use social information acquired from observing other individuals, and many aspects of this social information can be capitalized upon to manage bird populations. The conservation implications of attraction to conspecifics are especially promising for management, and as research progresses it is important to consider how this behavior can be applied to conservation practice. The biological underpinnings of conspecific attraction and the repercussions of manipulating species' distributions with attraction methods are not well understood, but conservation decisions often cannot wait for scientific research. Here we synthesize the current research on manipulation of songbirds by conspecific-attraction methods and review our knowledge gaps critically. We reviewed the published literature on conspecific-attraction experiments in songbirds and found that of 24 studies in which they were attempted, 20 were successful in attracting birds. Although many experiments have been successful in attracting conspecifics with various cues, we outline issues to be considered before songbirds are manipulated by attraction methods, and we highlight areas of research necessary to enhance the understanding of conspecific attraction and its use in conservation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-264
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Avian conservation techniques
  • Conspecific attraction
  • Endangered and threatened species
  • Habitat selection
  • Playbacks
  • Social information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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