S6-9 Tue Jan 5 16:30 – 17:00 Social information use in greater sage-grouse in response to habitat structure and social network Logsdon, RM; Krakauer, AH; Hylback, A; Mitchell, K; Dryer, B; Forbey, JS; Patricelli, GL*; University of California Davis; University of California Davis; University of California Davis; University of California Davis; University of California Davis; Boise State University; University of California Davis email@example.com https://patricellilab.faculty.ucdavis.edu/
Courtship signals often vary over space and time; one cause of this variability is plastic adjustment of effort in response to the social environment. To make such adjustments, displaying animals need information about the social environment; but we know little about how the physical environment (e.g. open vs closed habitat structure) affects the accessibility and flow of this information. In greater sage-grouse, we have shown that lekking males adjust their courtship effort in response to presence, proximity, and behaviors of females, as well as the effort of competing males. Habitat structure is highly variable among leks, from low grass to dense sagebrush, which may affect the flow of information and thus display plasticity. We hypothesized that on leks with high sagebrush cover, direct visual information about female presence will be limited, favoring reliance on social information from competing males. To test this, we manipulated habitat structure on leks with temporary barriers that limited visibility; we presented acoustic cues of female presence using playback of female calls or visual cues through presentation of a robotic female. We used network-based diffusion analysis to examine whether males initiate strutting behaviors using social information from other males or by direct observation of females, and how transmission of information differs among treatments. Our results highlight the important role of interacting social and physical environments in favoring complex and variable signals.