Informed Dispersal

Prospecting by Birds for Breeding Sites
  • J. Michael Reed
  • Thierry Boulinier
  • Etienne Danchin
  • Lewis W. Oring
Part of the Current Ornithology book series (CUOR, volume 15)


The quality of a bird’s breeding site is a primary determinant of its success or failure to reproduce there. We expect birds to devote considerable effort to acquiring accurate information about potential locations before finally selecting a breeding site (e.g., Wiens, 1976; Lack, 1971; Howard, 1920). The great mobility of birds strengthens this expectation, which is also reinforced by the accumulating evidence of avian cognitive abilities (e.g., Cook et al., 1997; Cook, 1993). In this chapter we review theoretical considerations and empirical evidence that birds gather advance information about possible breeding sites within a general area before settling to breed within that area. This gathering process, which we term prospecting, has received little systematic attention despite its potential interest and its obvious importance for individual fitness, population dynamics, and distribution.


Reproductive Success Breeding Site Storm Petrel Conspecific Attraction Sandwich Tern 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Michael Reed
    • 1
  • Thierry Boulinier
    • 2
  • Etienne Danchin
    • 2
  • Lewis W. Oring
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’EcologieUniversité Pierre et Marie CurieParis Cedex 05France
  3. 3.Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology Program, and Department of Environmental and Resource SciencesUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA

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