Godard, R.   1993.   Tit for tat among neighboring hooded warblers.   Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 33:   45-50.


The "dear-enemy" relationship of territorial songbirds could be mutually beneficial to neighbors, as males who recognize neighbors and reduce their responses to these neighbors would require less time and energy for territorial defense.

In order for this relationship to be evolutionarily stable, this reduction in response to a neighbor must be conditional on reciprocal restraint by that neighbor.

This study examined the possibility of such conditional responses in hooded warblers (Wilsonia citrina). Responses of territorial hooded warblers to playbacks of neighbors' songs from shared boundaries were measured before and after playbacks that simulated intrusions of those same neighbors (NNNN treatment) or strange birds (NSSN treatment) into the subjects' territories. Each male received both treatments separated by at least 8 days.

Males increased their responses to playbacks of a neighbor's songs at the boundary after simulated intrusions of that same neighbor (NNNN) but did not increase their responses to such playbacks after simulated intrusions of strangers (NSSN).

This increased response to a "defecting" neighbor suggests that the relationship between neighboring territorial hooded warblers is based on a conditional strategy like tit-for-tat.

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