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Collective Vigilance in the Wintering Hooded Crane: The Role of Flock Size and Anthropogenic Disturbances in a Human‐Dominated Landscape

Li, Chunlin, Beauchamp, Guy, Wang, Zhen, Cui, Peng
Ethology 2016 v.122 no.12 pp. 999-1008
Grus monacha, animal behavior, anthropogenic activities, flocks, foraging, humans, lakes, landscapes, prey species, risk, wetlands, China
Vigilance achieved at the group level, known as collective vigilance, can enhance the ability to assess threats and confer benefits to gregarious prey species. Examining the factors that influence collective vigilance and exploring how individual vigilance is organized at the group level can help to understand how prey groups respond to potential threats. We quantified collective vigilance and determined its temporal pattern in a natural wintering population of the hooded crane Grus monacha in the Shengjin Lake reserve in China. We examined the role of flock size and anthropogenic disturbances in the human‐dominated landscape on collective vigilance and level of synchronization. The proportion of time during which at least one individual scanned the surroundings (collective vigilance) increased with flock size and was higher in the more disturbed buffer zone of the lake. Synchronization of vigilance occurred more frequently in the smaller flocks but was not related to the risk of disturbance. Synchronization implies that individuals tend to monitor and copy the vigilance of neighbors. In the degraded wetlands, the wintering hooded crane benefits from foraging in groups and synchronizing their vigilance in response to human disturbances.