Science2014-06-10 4:13 PM

非洲的聪明鸟类“叉尾卷尾”为何能够进行多次诈骗 Deception by Flexible Alarm Mimicry in an African Bird

论文摘要 

非洲的聪明鸟类“叉尾卷尾”会模仿许多其它物种的警报呼叫,而据研究人员说,这些卷尾使用这种才能哄骗它们的邻居,并让它们一次次地弃自己的食物于不顾。类似“喊狼来了的男孩”,这些卷尾会在没有危险时发出呼叫警报。但是,与伊索寓言中的男孩不同,卷尾的虚假警报呼叫不会被社区中的其它成员所忽视。

Tom Flower及其同事在卡拉哈里沙漠研究了这些具有迷惑性的卷尾并发现,这些鸟会采用不同的警报呼叫,这样好让相关的其它物种中其花招。研究人员一共在847.5个小时的时间里观察了64只尾卷的688次试图窃取它们邻居食物的活动,他们发现,首先,用多种警报呼叫的尾卷更有可能欺骗它们的目标;其次,它们还能够多次欺骗它们的目标。他们说,这些尾卷模拟多种物种警报呼叫的能力会防止它们的邻居习惯于警报呼叫,或对卷尾的花招变得习以为常。

通常在自然界中,这种骗术的成功是受到使用频率的限制的,而这些发现展示了卷尾是如何摆脱这一限制的约束的。

Abstract 

Deception is common in Nature, but victims of deception discriminate against and ultimately ignore deceptive signals when they are produced too frequently. flexible variation of signals could allow evasion of such constraints. Fork-tailed drongos (Dicrurus adsimilis) use false alarm calls to scare other species away from food that they then steal. We show that drongos mimic the alarms of targeted species. Further, target species reduce their response to false alarm calls when they are repeated. However, the fear response is maintained when the call is varied. Drongos exploit this propensity by changing their alarm-call type when making repeated theft attempts on a particular species. Our results show that drongos can evade the frequency-dependent constraints that typically limit deception payoffs through flexible variation of their alarm calls.

Editor's Summary
Trick and Treat

Forked-tailed drongos are a particularly intelligent type of bird found in Africa. Drongos associate with many other bird and mammal species, which can learn to respond to drongo warning calls. Drongos are also exceptional mimics of the other species' alarm calls. Though the increased vigilance across these multi species associations is a benefit to all, drongos sometimes use these calls as ploys to scare associated species away from food, which the drongos then steal. However, without some approach to maintain the effectiveness of this deception, the drongos' ploy would soon be detected. Flower et al. (p. 513) now show that drongos are able to fool their target species longer by flexibly varying the type of call they give.

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