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Corpus Systématique Animale

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Territoriality and changes in resource use by sunbirds at Leonotis leonurus (Labiatae)

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  • S. K. Frost 1
  • P. G. H. Frost 1
  • 1) FitzPatrick Institute, University of Cape Town, 7700, Rondebosch, South Africa

Leonotis leonurus was studied with the aim of characterising nectar quality and quantity, and of monitoring the sunbirds' response to the resource. The flowers produced high quality nectar in low quantities. Nectar quality remained constant during the day and averaged 23.4% sucrose equivalents (an energy content of 3.8j/?l). Nectar production was highest during the morning when flow rates reached a peak of 3.3 ?l/h. L. leonurus was visited by four species of sunbirds. In 1977 there were 7.8 visits/h to the flowers. The clump was defended by a single Olive Sunbird (Nectarinia olivacea) who defended the flowers intra- and interspecifically. On one day the territorial bird obtained approximately 57.1 kJ from the Leonotis flowers and expended 5.4 kJ on defence and 13.6 kJ overall while on the territory. Territorial behaviour and intruder pressure was a function of resource availability. When Leonotis nectar levels were high intruder pressure was intense and the territorial bird employed long chases as a defence behaviour. When nectar levels desreased intruder pressure was lower, the territorial bird chased less and employed vocalisations as a relatively inexpensive form of territorial behaviour. In 1978 there was an abundance of nectar sources in the study area due to the late onset of the dry season. Sunbirds were not territorial at Leonotis and visiting rates were lower than in 1977, averaging only 1.7 visits per hour. Instead the sunbirds concentrated on contemporaneously flowering plant species, particularly Halleria lucida.

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  • 1 - natural sciences
  • 2 - biology
  • 3 - ecology
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  • 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines
  • 2 - sciences biologiques et medicales
  • 3 - sciences biologiques fondamentales et appliquees. psychologie
  • 4 - vertebres: anatomie et physiologie, organisme dans son ensemble ou etude de plusieurs organes ou systemes
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  • 1 - Life Sciences ; 2 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences ; 3 - Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Catégories WoS
  • 1 - science ; 2 - ecology
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