Unpredictable resources in seasonal environments may favour innovative individuals that efficiently explore and exploit such resources. We tested the hypothesis that potential intraspecific abundance is a more powerful predictor of detection of a novel food source than interspecific abundance and predation risk. The hypothesis was tested using latency of Great Tits Parus major to find bird-feeders in relation to the abundance of Great Tit and other birds, as well as cats recorded close to novel feeders in urban and rural habitats. Data were collected during winter 2013/2014 in eight cities and nearby rural areas across Poland. Generalized linear models, multimodel inference and hierarchical partitioning showed that the probability that Great Tits used a novel birdfeeder was positively correlated both with the number of Great Tits and all other tits combined in the vicinity of feeders. Latency in feeder usage was negatively related to the number of conspecifics, and it was less strongly negatively related to the number of other tits and the abundance of all other species. The effect of the number of other tits interacted with the environment; the number of tits positively correlated with latency in rural areas, while this relationship was negative in urban areas. Latency until arrival at a feeder was shorter for males than for females. The effect of cats at feeders on bird behaviour was statistically non-significant. Thus, latency until arrival at novel birdfeeders was predicted by local population size and abundance of other bird species, but not mammalian predators, and this relationship may be altered by the environment.
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Vol. 52 • No. 2