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Hyper-dispersed cache distributions reduce pilferage: a laboratory study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tom SmuldersORCiD



Many animals use hoarding as a long-term strategy to ensure a food supply at times of shortage. We suggest that long-term scatter hoarders, whose caches are vulnerable to potentially high pilferage, should hoard in ways to reduce cache loss. This could be achieved by manipulating the density and dispersal patterns of caches to reduce the foraging efficiency of pilferers. This study explores the effect of distribution patterns on cache loss in the laboratory. We recorded the discovery of food items in different dispersal patterns by two bird species: coal tits Periparus ater (a hoarder) and great tits Parus major (a non-hoarder). Hyper-dispersed distributions reduced foraging efficiency because both species used systematic local search patterns. This study shows that hyper-dispersed distributions would be advantageous to hoarding animals to reduce cache loss. © Journal of Avian Biology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Male L, Smulders T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Avian Biology

Year: 2008

Volume: 39

Issue: 2

Pages: 170-177

ISSN (print): 0908-8857

ISSN (electronic): 1600-048X

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/j.2008.0908-8857.04019.x


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