Quantifying the social structure of a large captive flock of greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus): potential implications for management in captivity
© 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Reason for embargo
Under embargo until 7 March 2019 in compliance with publisher policy.
An appropriate social environment for species held in captivity is key for ensuring both good welfare and reproductive performance. Species with a complex social structure may suffer if their social requirements are not taken into consideration as part of management and husbandry strategies. Here we aim to understand the drivers of social structure, and the link between social structure and reproduction in a flock of 281 greater flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre. Proximity-based associations between birds were measured three and four times per day (depending upon season and husbandry) from 2012 to 2016. To determine the effect of reproductive activity on social structure, display and nesting behaviour were also recorded for the 2015 breeding season (April to July). Results showed that birds displayed a wider range of social relationships, and that affiliations within the flock were not random. This flamingo flock was differentiated into discrete subgroups, and social structure was stable across some years, but not over all seasons. Social bonds were more consistent across seasons into the nesting period rather than outside of it. During breeding, not all birds that displayed built a nest, and not all displaying birds nested. Future research should further investigate differences in display and nesting patterns within a flock, and determine how the social structure of large flocks compares to smaller flocks of this species. Comparing captive data to information on wild bird sociality would be relevant to highlight any differences in patterns of assortment and connectivity.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via the DOI in this record.
Available online 6 March 2018