The Evolution of Coloniality in Birds in Relation to Food, Habitat, Predation, and Life‐History Traits: A Comparative Analysis

  title={The Evolution of Coloniality in Birds in Relation to Food, Habitat, Predation, and Life‐History Traits: A Comparative Analysis},
  author={C{\'e}cile Rolland and Etienne G. J. Danchin and Michelle de Fraipont},
  journal={The American Naturalist},
  pages={514 - 529}
Coloniality in birds has been intensively studied under the cost and benefit approach, but no general conclusion can be given concerning its evolutionary function. Here, we report on a comparative analysis carried out on 320 species of birds using the general method of comparative analysis for discrete variables and the contrast method to analyze the evolution of coloniality. Showing a mean of 23 convergences and 10 reversals, coloniality appears to be a rather labile trait. Colonial breeding… 


The results suggest that colonial individuals of this population of Red-necked Grebes gain selfish benefits from relatively rare, high-quality habitat rather than from proximity of conspecifics.

Does predation select for or against avian coloniality? A comparative analysis

The reduced predation hypothesis that individuals aggregate into colonies for protection, and the opposite hypothesis, that breeding aggregations increase predation risk, were tested and it was suggested that the colonial/vulnerable state is especially exposed to predation.

The evolutionary transition to coloniality promotes higher blood parasitism in birds

The pairwise comparative method was used to test whether colonial bird species incur in a greater risk of infection and if they must to face with a greater diversity of blood parasites, by comparing pairs of congeners that included one solitary and one colonial breeding species.

Evolution of within-colony distribution patterns of birds in response to habitat structure

  • P. Minias
  • Environmental Science
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2014
The analysis indicated that central-periphery gradients of distribution prevail in species breeding in homogeneous habitats, and edge nest sites of high physical quality confer higher fitness benefits in comparison to low-quality central sites, and thus, high-quality pairs are likely to choose nest sites irrespectively of their within-colony location.

Mate fidelity and coloniality in waterbirds: a comparative analysis

The reconstruction of the historical pattern of character origin and evolution indicates that the transition from a high to a low degree of coloniality occurred before the transition to higher mate fidelity, and a significant and positive association between divorce rate and the degree ofcoloniality in waterbirds.


Testing the performance-based nonspecific attraction hypothesis of the Black-legged Kittiwake suggests that both first breeders and adults rely on the repro- ductive success of conspecifics as "public information" to assess their own chances of breeding successfully in a given patch and to make settling decisions.

Formation and growth of new seabird colonies: the significance of habitat quality

Although much research has been directed toward understanding the evolution of avian coloniality, few theoretical or empirical studies have directly addressed demographics associated with formation and growth of new seabird colonies.

A new approach to understanding the evolutionary conditions leading to colonial breeding: A comparison of colonial breeding with solitary territorial breeding and solitary non-territorial breeding

A new approach is proposed, a three-state comparison, which compares colonial breeding with not only solitary non-territorial breeding but also solitary territorial breeding, which indicates that the evolution of colonial breeding cannot be sufficiently explained by the evolutionary conditions proposed in previous studies.

Information use in colonial living

The types of information provided by colonial animals are reviewed and the different ways in which decision‐making in colonies can be enhanced by social information are examined, illustrating that information use permeates all aspects of colonial living.

Familiarity drives social philopatry in an obligate colonial breeder with weak interannual breeding-site fi delity Animal Behaviour

This study reveals group tenacity across years in a colonial bird and found that association rates rapidly decreased across years but stayed higher than random associations during 2 consecutive years after the fi rst ob- servations.



The evolution of coloniality: the emergence of new perspectives.

Avian Life History Evolution in Relation to Nest Sites, Nest Predation, and Food

Examination of variation and covariation of life history traits of 123 North American Passeriformes and Piciformes in relation to nest sites, nest predation, and foraging sites found that number of broods was much more strongly correlated with annual fecundity and adult survival among species than was clutch size, suggesting that clutch size may not be the primary fecundation trait on which selection is acting.


It is suggested that both first breeders and adults rely on the reproductive success of conspecifics as “public information” to assess their own chances of breeding successfully in a given patch and to make settling decisions when deciding whether to emigrate.

Colony Formation in Seabirds

The processes of how colonies form and function have been investigated emphasizing two distinct points of view: the phylogeny of coloniality—the formation of colonies in context of evolutionary processes; the ontogeny of colonies during the season of reproduction.

Cuckoldry and Sociality: A Comparative Study of Birds

A positive relationship exists between uncertainty of paternity (as determined by the percentage of extrapair copulations) and the degree of sociality, and therefore the frequent copulation strategy appears to be a best-of-a-bad-job strategy adopted by males unable to guard their mates.

The Pursuit of Extra-pair Copulations by Female Birds: A New Hypothesis of Colony Formation

It is suggested here that the mechanisms which have produced leks also operate when monogamous female birds pursue extra-pair copulations, and how and why individuals in colonies cluster prior to egg-laying is explained.

Density and extra-pair fertilizations in birds: a comparative analysis

Comparisons among species revealed no evidence that EPF frequencies correlated with nesting dispersion, local breeding density, or (3) breeding synchrony, even when each of these variables in turn was held constant and phylogenetic relationships were taken into account via contrast analyses.

Choice of colony size in birds.

Critical evaluation of DNA hybridization studies in avian systematics

I demonstrated statistically significant differences in rates of DNA evolution for a few passerine birds that vitiate the role of DNA hybridization as the direct indicator of kinship.