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Elevational differences in territory defence response in native (endemic and non-endemic) forest birds on Viti Levu Island, Fiji
Experimental approaches to measure territory defence can be used to interpret the relative magnitude of intraspecific aggression in different ecological contexts. The aim of this study is to examine the response of Fijian forest bird species to conspecific intruders using playback of previously recorded songs along an elevational gradient. We address two questions: Do different foraging guilds in Fiji’s forest birds show different patterns of territorial defence behaviour towards conspecific intruders? Secondly, do Fiji’s forest birds show stronger territorial defence at higher elevations? We explore these questions across two foraging guilds (insectivore and omnivore) on Viti Levu Island, Fiji. All four focal species had a stronger response at the highest elevation, and the endemic insectivore had the strongest response. Perhaps high elevation insects are less abundant and hence increased aggressiveness is favoured to defend the territory, and/or perhaps in general more aggressive birds colonise higher elevation areas, both ideas that require further testing. This study provides first insights into response to conspecifics in Fiji’s forest birds that can be explored in relation to avian behaviour also in the context of human activity, human disturbance and threats to the persistence of birds across elevational gradients.