The size and composition of social groups in the wild zebra finch

McCowan, Luke SC, Mariette, Mylene M and Griffith, Simon C 2015, The size and composition of social groups in the wild zebra finch, Emu : Austral ornithology, vol. 115, no. 3, pp. 191-198, doi: 10.1071/MU14059.

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Title The size and composition of social groups in the wild zebra finch
Author(s) McCowan, Luke SC
Mariette, Mylene MORCID iD for Mariette, Mylene M
Griffith, Simon C
Journal name Emu : Austral ornithology
Volume number 115
Issue number 3
Start page 191
End page 198
Total pages 8
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Place of publication Clayton, Vic.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 0158-4197
Keyword(s) drinking
group size
pair bond
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Summary Despite the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) being used as a model species in behavioural science, the size and composition of social groups in which individuals typically live in the wild when they are not breeding is not well described. We observed the group size and composition of free-ranging zebra finches during two brief non-breeding periods near semipermanent water sources in the arid zone of Australia. We conducted 15 observation sessions at two artificial dams during late 2011, and five transects in April 2012. We found that individuals most commonly foraged, watered and travelled around the colonies in groups of two, the overwhelming majority of which (94.2%) were mixed-sex, which most likely reflected sexual partnerships, or in larger groups of 3-10 individuals, with few observations of groups larger than this observed. These observations indicate the central importance of the pair bond, even during periods outside of active breeding. We also saw very few single-sex groups, in contrast to the way in which they are often housed in captivity. Our results suggest that researchers working on captive zebra finches should attempt to keep individuals in pairs or small social groups to best emulate the social environment they generally experience in the wild.
Language eng
DOI 10.1071/MU14059
Field of Research 059999 Environmental Sciences not elsewhere classified
0502 Environmental Science And Management
0602 Ecology
0608 Zoology
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Grant ID ARC DP0881019
Copyright notice ©2015, Birdlife Australia
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