Life is uncertain. To reduce uncertainty and make adaptive decisions, individuals need to collect information. Individuals often visit the breeding sites of their conspecifics (i.e., "prospect"), likely to assess conspecifics' reproductive success and to use such information to identify high-quality spots for future breeding. We investigated whether visitation rate by prospectors and success of visited sites are causally linked. We manipulated the reproductive success (enlarged, reduced, and control broods) in a nest-box population of migratory pied flycatchers, Ficedula hypoleuca, in Finland. We measured the visitation rates of prospectors at 87 nest-boxes continuously from manipulation (day 3 after hatching) to fledging. 302 adult pied flycatchers prospected 9194 times on these manipulated nests (at least 78% of detected prospectors were successful breeders). While the number of visitors and visits was not influenced by the relative change in brood size we induced, the resulting absolute brood size predicted the prospecting behaviour: the larger the brood size after manipulation, the more visitors and visits a nest had. The parental provisioning rate at a nest and brood size pre-manipulation did not predict the number of visitors or visits post-manipulation. More visitors, however, inspected early than late nests and broods in good condition. Our study suggests that individuals collect social information when visiting conspecific nests during breeding and provides evidence that large broods attract more visitors than small broods. We discuss the results in light of individual decision-making by animals in their natural environments.
Predation risk has negative indirect effects on prey fitness, partly mediated through changes in behaviour. Evidence that individuals gather social information from other members of the population suggests that events in a community may impact the behaviour of distant individuals. However, spatially wide-ranging impacts on individual behaviour caused by a predator encounter elsewhere in a community have not been documented before. We investigated the effect of a predator encounter (hawk model presented at a focal nest) on the parental behaviour of pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca), both at the focal nest and at nearby nests different distances from the predator encounter. We show that nest visitation of both focal pairs and nearby pairs were affected, up to 3 h and 1 h, respectively. Parents also appeared to compensate initial disrupted feeding by later increasing nest visitation rates. This is the first evidence showing that the behaviour of nearby pairs was affected away from an immediate source of risk. Our results indicate that the impacts of short-term predator encounters may immediately extend spatially to the broader community, affecting the behaviour of distant individuals. Information about predators is probably quickly spread by cues such as intra- and heterospecific alarm calls, in communities of different taxa.
Species checklists are powerful and important tools of communication between taxonomists and applied environmental biologists, which in turn lead to well-planned and successful conservation strategies and ecological studies. Despite this, only recently the interest on compiling systematic checklists is growing among taxonomists who study tardigrades-micrometazoans that inhabit almost every habitat worldwide. As the Finnish records of tardigrades (a.k.a. water bears) species are incomplete, outdated and no checklist has ever been compiled for this country, an easy-to-consult checklist is here reported. This checklist covers all Finnish tardigrade taxa identified in the past and in the 13 samples collected for this study. A total of 68 tardigrade species are recorded from Finland, with 6 of them being new records presented in this contribution. Of these species, four have their loci tipici in Finland and we provide an English translation of their original German descriptions. A Generalised Linear Model was used to test the effect of sampling effort and area size on the number of species recorded in each biogeographical province of Finland. The results showed that geographical differences in species richness can be explained solely by sampling effort. The number of tardigrade species recorded in Finland corresponds to about 5% of all described species in the phylum, thus indicating a potential high richness for this country. However, the results of the Generalised Linear Model highlight that a reliable knowledge of the tardigrade diversity in Finland will be reached only with a more uniform and intensive sampling effort.