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Social foraging and individual consistency in following behaviour: testing the information centre hypothesis in free-ranging vultures.

Abstract

), by tracking movements and behaviour of sympatric individuals over extended periods and across relatively large spatial scales, thereby precluding alternative explanations such as local enhancement. In agreement with the ICH, we found that 'informed' individuals returning to previously visited carcasses were followed by 'uninformed' vultures that consequently got access to these resources. When a dyad (two individuals that depart from the same roost within 2 min of each other) included an informed individual, they spent a higher proportion of the flight time close to each other at a shorter distance between them than otherwise. Although all individuals occasionally profited from following others, they differed in their tendencies to be informed or uninformed. This study provides evidence for 'following behaviour' in natural conditions and demonstrates differential roles and information states among foragers within a population. Moreover, demonstrating the possible reliance of vultures on following behaviour emphasizes that individuals in declining populations may suffer from reduced foraging efficiency.

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