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Mixed-Species Groups of Animals - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128053553, 9780128093054

Mixed-Species Groups of Animals

1st Edition

Behavior, Community Structure, and Conservation

Authors: Eben Goodale Guy Beauchamp Graeme Ruxton
eBook ISBN: 9780128093054
Paperback ISBN: 9780128053553
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 26th April 2017
Page Count: 216
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Mixed-Species Groups of Animals: Behavior, Community Structure, and Conservation presents a comprehensive discussion on the mixed-species groups of animals, a spectacular and accessible example of the complexity of species interactions.

They are found in a wide range of animals, including invertebrates, fish, mammals and birds, and in different habitats, both terrestrial and aquatic, throughout the world.

While there are more than 500 articles on this subject scattered in separate categories of journals, there has yet to be a general, cross-taxa book-length introduction to this subject that summarizes the behavior and community structure of these groups.

The authors first survey the diversity of spatial associations among animals and then concentrate on moving groups. They review the major classes of theories that have been developed to explain their presence, particularly in how groups increase foraging efficiency and decrease predation. Finally, they explore the intricacies of species interactions, such as communication, that explain species roles in groups and discuss what implications these social systems have for conservation.

Key Features

  • Functions as a single resource for readers inside and outside of academia on mixed-species groups, serving as a foundation for future research in this field
  • Begins with an empirical summary of mixed-species distribution and reviews how the theories explaining their adaptive benefits are supported by the evidence
  • Includes many aspects of mixed-group behavior (e.g. foraging, communication, collective decision-making, dominance, social roles of species and leadership, relationship to conservation) that were not previously or easily accessible


Advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and academics/ researchers in animal behavior, biology and behavioral ecology, and faculty and researchers interested in mixed-species groups

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction

  • 1.1. What is a Mixed-Species Group? Defining the Scope of the Book
  • 1.2. Historical Perspective on Research on Mixed-Species Groups

Chapter 2. A Diversity of Mixed-Species Associations

  • 2.1. Classifying Mixed-Species Associations
  • 2.2. Interactions Between Species Without Association
  • 2.3. Association of Species Despite Lack of Interaction
  • 2.4. Stationary Associations Centered Around Species Interactions
  • 2.5. Conclusions

Chapter 3. Moving Mixed-Species Groups in Different Taxa

  • 3.1. Comparing Moving Mixed-Species Groups
  • 3.2. Invertebrates
  • 3.3. Fish and Aquatic Amphibians
  • 3.4. Mammals
  • 3.5. Birds
  • 3.6. MSGs That Include Multiple Taxa and Where One Species Makes Food More Accessible to Others
  • 3.7. Conclusions

Chapter 4. Adaptive Implications of Mixed-Species Grouping: Foraging, Physical, and Reproductive Factors

  • 4.1. Different Types of Mixed-Species Groups in Terms of Adaptation
  • 4.2. Some Potential Foraging Benefits of (Mixed-Species) Grouping
  • 4.3. Some Potential Foraging Costs of (Mixed Species) Grouping
  • 4.4. Reduced Cost of Locomotion in Groups
  • 4.5. Protection From Adverse Environments in Groups
  • 4.6. Further Social and Reproductive Aspects of (Mixed-Species) Grouping
  • 4.7. Conclusions

Chapter 5. Adaptive Implications of Mixed-Species Grouping: Predators and Other Antagonists

  • 5.1. Consequences of Mixed-Species Grouping for Predation Risk
  • 5.2. Other Enemies (Parasites and Disease)
  • 5.3. Herbivory in MSAs of Plants
  • 5.4. Case Studies of Selection Pressures on MSGs
  • 5.5. Conclusions

Chapter 6. Communication

  • 6.1. Introduction
  • 6.2. Eavesdropping
  • 6.3. Signaling
  • 6.4. Conclusions

Chapter 7. Leadership and Sentinel Behavior

  • 7.1. Introduction
  • 7.2. Leadership
  • 7.3. Sentinel Behavior
  • 7.4. Conclusions

Chapter 8. Mixed-Species Groups and Conservation

  • 8.1. Introduction: The Need for Conservation of Mixed-Species Associations
  • 8.2. Mixed-Species Group Responses to Anthropomorphic Disturbance
  • 8.3. Mechanisms of This Response
  • 8.4. Gaps in Knowledge
  • 8.5. Conservation Actions: Protect Locations
  • 8.6. Conservation Actions: Protect Species
  • 8.7. Conservation Actions: Restoration of Disturbed Areas
  • 8.8. Conclusions

Chapter 9. Conclusions

  • 9.1. What Have We Learned?
  • 9.2. Empirical Research on Mixed-Species Groups
  • 9.3. Theoretical Review of Benefits and Costs
  • 9.4. Social Interactions Within Mixed-Species Groups
  • 9.5. Conservation and Conclusion


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 2017
26th April 2017
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:
Paperback ISBN:

About the Authors

Eben Goodale

Eben Goodale teaches at Guangxi University in China and is a field ornithologist who has studied mixed-species bird flocks in South and East Asia and Melanesia. Originally an animal behaviourist, his studies on interactions between species in flocks have led him into issues of community ecology and conservation biology, and he has published more than 20 peer-reviewed articles specifically on mixed groups.

Affiliations and Expertise

College of Forestry, Guangxi University, Nanning, Guangxi, China

Guy Beauchamp

Guy Beauchamp

Guy Beauchamp is a behavioural ecologist specializing on social foraging in birds. He has written over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has been studying sandpipers for the last 10 years. He currently works as a research officer at the Veterinary College of the University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Affiliations and Expertise

Veterinary College, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Graeme Ruxton

Graeme Ruxton has worked on animal behaviour for approximately 30 years, and authored more than 300 papers on the subject; group living has been a particular focus throughout that time, and he is joint author of the 2002 monograph “Living in Groups,” which is still widely cited.

Affiliations and Expertise

School of Biology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK


"In summary, this is a thorough and concise book on mixed-species animal groups, and functions as a single resource for anyone who is interested in the study of this topic. It is very useful for both undergraduates and post-graduates, as well as for those outside of academia, and so I would thoroughly recommend it for a university library and for anyone who is considering research within this area." --Primate Eye 

" is a rich, although not exhaustive, source of information on MSGs. ...I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot, and fully recommend it to everybody interested in mixed-species groups." --The Quarterly Review of Biology

"I found the book fascinating in its breadth and now have a much broader and deeper appreciation of mixed-species groups. The authors present frameworks that can be used to guide future research, highlight future research questions, and point out how new methods may enhance our knowledge of both mechanism and function." --Primates

"It will be useful to a broad readership, from students who look for a thorough introduction to the phenomenon to researchers and university lecturers who want to have a single resource on mixed-species troops at hand…I enjoyed reading it and learned a lot, and fully recommend it to everybody interested in mixed-species groups." --Primates

Ratings and Reviews