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Data from: Does city life reduce neophobia? A study on wild black-capped chickadees

Citation

Jarjour, Catherine; Evans, Julian; Routh, Mélanie; Morand-Ferron, Julie (2019), Data from: Does city life reduce neophobia? A study on wild black-capped chickadees, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.20rg064

Abstract

As human populations increase and city borders grow, many animals have to modify foraging behaviours in order to exploit evolutionarily novel urban food sources that could aid their survival. Neophobia, the fear of novelty, can lead to missed opportunities in these cases. Here we studied the novelty response of wild animals in ecologically relevant conditions while controlling for individual characteristics and potential differences in foraging group size. We predicted that urban black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) would be more likely to initially contact novelty than rural chickadees, and that subordinates and juveniles would be more likely to first contact novelty than dominants and adults, respectively. We ran replicated experiments using three novelty types (object, colour, or food) on six sites, during which we registered feeder choice of 71 tagged individuals. We found that urban chickadees showed less neophobia than their rural counterparts, the latter having a higher probability of initially contacting the familiar feeder before approaching the novel feeder. There was no significant effect of an individual’s dominance, age or sex on its first choice of feeder, nor was there an effect of novelty type. Overall, our results suggest that urban chickadees exhibit less neophobia than their rural counterparts, because they have generally learned to tolerate novelty in their habitat, they have adapted to live in an environment that rewards low neophobia, and/or they are less reluctant to use feeders at new locations.

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