News Round-Up

Them’s fighting birds: Study identifies other species’ influence on territorial aggression


A social behaviour known as the “audience effect” has long been reported among humans. From children tussling on a playground to a sports team’s home field advantage, competitors can be influenced by who is watching.

“Because the audience effect has been a focus of human research for so long, animal researchers started observing the same behaviour in fish and birds and many other species,” said Katie Sieving, a University of Florida professor whose studies focus on birds. “But until now, animal research on this topic nearly always considered audience effects to be a within-species phenomenon. For example, a male fighting fish might fight harder when a female watches the fight.” MORE