As the value of a limited resource such as a territory increases, animals should invest more in the defence of that resource. Because reproductive success often depends on the quality of a breeding territory, reproductive success or failure may alter the perceived value of territory and affect an animal's investment in territorial defence. We used common loons (Gavia immer) to test the hypothesis that animals with recent breeding success would show stronger territorial defence than those with no recent breeding success. Surprisingly, successful loons responded less, not more, to a simulated intrusion. However, birds with success in the previous season also increased their territorial response as the breeding season progressed. In conjunction with past data showing that recently successful loons experience an increase in conspecific intrusions on their territories, we interpret our data to suggest that loons with recent success offset the cost of increased intrusions by adopting a more efficient strategy for territorial defence (e.g., limiting investment in resource defence until the time of the season when it is most critical).
Spool, J. A., Riters, L. V. and Piper, W. H. (2017), Investment in territorial defence relates to recent reproductive success in common loons (Gavia immer). J Avian Biol. doi:10.1111/jav.01389