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Grooming Time Predicts Survival: American Kestrels, Falco sparverius, on a Subtropical Island.

Authors
  • Bush, Sarah E
  • Clayton, Dale H
Type
Published Article
Journal
The American Naturalist
Publisher
The University of Chicago Press
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2023
Volume
201
Issue
4
Pages
603–609
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1086/723412
PMID: 36958002
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

AbstractAnimals have evolved a variety of adaptations to care for their body surfaces, such as grooming behavior, which keeps the integument clean, parasite-free, and properly arranged. Despite extensive research on the grooming of mammals, birds, and arthropods, the survival value of grooming has never been directly measured in natural populations. We monitored grooming and survival in a population of marked American kestrels (Falco sparverius) on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. We found a strong association between time spent grooming and survival over a 2-year period. The quadratic relationship we show is consistent with stabilizing natural selection on grooming time. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence for a correlation between grooming time and survival in a natural population. Grooming time may predict the survival of many animal taxa, but additional studies are needed to determine the shape and strength of the relationship among birds, mammals, and arthropods.

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