Territory Choice of Pied Flycatchers is Not Based on Induced Cues of Herbivore Damaged Trees

Elina Mantyla*, 1, Paivi M. Sirkia1, Tero Klemola1, Toni Laaksonen1, 2
1 Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, FI-20014 Turku, Finland
2 Finnish Museum of Natural History, P.O. Box 17, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

© 2010 Mantyla et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, FI-20014 Turku, Finland; Tel: +358 2 333 5039; Fax: +358 2 333 6550; E-mails:


Passerine birds use a variety of indirect cues to make territory location decisions. These birds can also distinguish herbivore-damaged plants from undamaged ones during foraging, even when they cannot see the herbivorous larvae or damaged leaves. To test the possibility that also the territory choice of passerines is affected by herbivoreinduced plant cues, we established territories with and without indirect cues of herbivore presence for migratory pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) at the time of their arrival. Half of the territories had folivorous moth larvae hidden inside mesh bags to defoliate small trees (Betula spp.) and half had only empty mesh bags on trees. Hidden herbivory on the trees did not affect the mean date of territory choice by either male or female birds. Nonetheless, there was a trend that females, but not males, chose the territories in the same order in two consecutive years. Thus, it seems that pied flycatchers do not use indirect cues of larval presence as a basis for their choice of territory, but possibly some more general environmental cues.

Keywords: Female choice, foraging, habitat choice, inducible plant responses, nest-site, territory quality, tritrophic interactions.