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Original Paper

Exploitation of an Ancient Escape Circuit by an Avian Predator: Prey Sensitivity to Model Predator Display in the Field

Jabłoński P.G.a, b · Strausfeld N.J.a

Author affiliations

aARL Division of Neurobiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., USA and bInstitute of Ecology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Lomianki, Poland

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Brain Behav Evol 2000;56:94–106

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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Original Paper

Published online: May 26, 2009
Issue release date: August 2000

Number of Print Pages: 13
Number of Figures: 10
Number of Tables: 1

ISSN: 0006-8977 (Print)
eISSN: 1421-9743 (Online)

For additional information: https://www.karger.com/BBE

Abstract

Certain insectivorous birds, such as the painted redstart (Myioborus pictus), undertake flush pursuit – a characteristic display that elicits an escape reaction by an insect, which the bird then chases in the air and eats. This account describes experiments showing that flush pursuit uses visual displays, which are likely to exploit an ancient neural circuit in dipteran insects, the visual systems of which are well documented as detecting looming stimuli and triggering an escape responses. Using models that decompose components of the redstart display, specific elements of the display were analyzed for their contribution in triggering visually induced escape behavior by dipterous insects. Elements tested were pivoting body movements, patterning on the spread tail and wings, and visual contrast of model redstarts against pale and dark backgrounds. We show that contrasting patterns within the plumage are crucial to foraging success, as is contrast of the bird against a background. Visual motion also significantly contributes to the successful flushing. In contrast, unpatterned models and patterned models that do not contrast with the background are less successful in eliciting escape responses of flies. Natural visual stimuli provided by Myioborus pictus are similar to those known to trigger looming and time-to-collision neurons in the escape circuits of flies and other insects, such as orthopterans. We propose that the tuning properties of these neural pathways might have contributed to the evolution of foraging displays in flush-pursuing birds.

© 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel


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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Original Paper

Published online: May 26, 2009
Issue release date: August 2000

Number of Print Pages: 13
Number of Figures: 10
Number of Tables: 1

ISSN: 0006-8977 (Print)
eISSN: 1421-9743 (Online)

For additional information: https://www.karger.com/BBE


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