FORAGING STRATEGIES, USE OF SPACE AND AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR OF DOMESTIC FOWL (Gallus gallus domesticus)
Hoerl, Erin Natalie
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Domestic fowl were tested in three experiments, all investigating the mediating effects of three group sizes of 5, 10, and 20 individuals, on behavioral responses under varying environmental conditions. The first experiment investigated social spacing and aggressive behavior in the presence or absence of cover panels. Smaller group sizes were more affected by cover panels than larger group sizes. In the second and third experiments patchy environments were used to test optimal foraging strategies. In the second experiment, smaller group sizes were more affected by patch locations than larger ones. In the third experiment birds were presented with patches varying in quality. Birds in all group sizes were able to immediately discern patch quality and preferred patches of higher quality. Despite generations of artificial selection pressure domestic fowl continue to forage optimally in patchy environments, and adopt flocking strategies predicted by behavioral ecology theory.