Discrimination of the threat of direct versus tangential approach to the nest by incubating herring and great black-backed gulls

Joanna Burger, Michael Gochfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Scopus citations

Abstract

Examined the ability of incubating herring (Larus argentatus) and black-backed (L. marinus) gulls to discriminate between people walking directly toward their nests and those merely walking tangentially by their nests. Study groups varied in their habitat (open vs vegetated) and previous exposure to human disturbance. Herring gulls responded when the experimenter (E) was at a greater distance from the nest if the approach was directly toward the nest with the person looking at the incubating bird, and gulls in disturbed areas responded sooner than birds in undisturbed areas. In habitats with low visibility (dense bush cover), the gulls could not see E early enough to show different responses to the 2 treatments. Black-backed gulls nested only in undisturbed areas, and only slight differences were evident in the distance at which they left the nest. However, they called more when E was approaching the nest directly. In this study, gulls habituated to the continual presence of humans by modifying their responses, but even habituated birds continued to reassess the potential danger of a nearby human and perceived subtle differences between a direct and a tangential approach. (20 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-684
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of comparative and physiological psychology
Volume95
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 1981

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

Keywords

  • disturbed vs undisturbed habitats, responses to threat of direct vs tangential E approach to nest, incubating herring vs great black backed gulls
  • open vs vegetated &

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