Current Biology: Social relationships determine individual foraging behaviour

A new paper published in Current Biology, co-authored by Damien Farine, examined how wild birds valued their relationship with their mated partner in comparison to their access to food. Using automated feeding stations, mated pairs were split so that male could only access the feeding stations that the female couldn’t, and vice versa. However, the birds chose to sacrifice access to food in order to stay with their partner over the winter period. This led to birds associating with other individuals based on their partner’s choices, rather than just their own preferences. Also, birds that followed their mate to feeders they couldn’t access themselves learnt, over time, to scrounge from them. The experiment illustrates how the social relationships that an individual holds can determine their behaviour, their position within a social network, and their social foraging strategies. Link to the paper here.