Social behaviour and foraging success of little egrets (Egretta garzetta)

Reut Vardi*, Burt P. Kotler, Ofir Altstein, Zvika Abramsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intraspecific interactions among predators can change the game between a predator and its prey. Individuals of different size or sex can differ in their responses to conspecific competitors. We studied intraspecific interactions among pairs of little egrets (Egretta garzetta) while foraging on responsive prey (comet goldfish, Carassius auratus). Testing little egrets in an artificial patchy environment both singly and while engaged in social forging in pairs (male & female) at two prey densities, allowed us to explore individual differences in foraging success. We found sexual dimorphism with males being bigger and more aggressive than females. However, female foraging success was positively affected by the time they spent foraging with a conspecific male, suggesting they might be able to mitigate male aggressiveness with an indirect positive interaction. Despite the presence of direct interactions between individuals in the pair, egret foraging success was not affected by such interactions, nor by prey density. Our results demonstrate the importance of sex and an individual's ability to adjust its social behaviour based on the behaviour of others in this predator-prey foraging game.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104318
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Interference competition
  • Intraspecific
  • Predator-predator interaction
  • Prey
  • Sexual dimorphism


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