Variation in sleep behaviour in free-living blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus: effects of sex, age and environment

Steinmeyer C, Schielzeth H, Mueller JC, Kempenaers B (2010)
Animal Behaviour 80(5): 853-864.

Journal Article | Published | English

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Abstract
Although sleep is fundamental for survival, not much is known about sleep behaviour in free-living animals and between-individual variation in sleep patterns has hardly been studied, except in humans. We analysed sleep behaviour in a free-living population of blue tits in southern Germany. We recorded individuals roosting in nestboxes between November and April using infrared-sensitive cameras. We investigated the following sleep parameters: time of entering and leaving the nestbox, sleep onset, awakening time, sleep duration, midpoint of sleep, latency to sleep and frequency and duration of nocturnal awakenings. Sleep onset, awakening time and sleep duration followed seasonal changes in daylength. Blue tits slept ca. 4.8 h longer in winter than in spring. During the night, birds woke up between 23 and 230 times, but this did not change seasonally. Local light conditions influenced awakening time: birds at brighter locations woke up earlier. Females slept on average 15 min longer per night than males and this sex difference became more pronounced in early spring. Although females spent a greater proportion of the night awake than males, they still slept more overall. First-year birds spent more time in the nestbox after waking up and left the nestbox later in the morning than older individuals. Repeatability estimates showed that individuals were consistent in their sleep behaviour over the 2-year study period. Our results indicate that sleep patterns are individual-specific traits in blue tits. We suggest that the observed sex difference in sleep duration is caused by sexual selection.
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Steinmeyer C, Schielzeth H, Mueller JC, Kempenaers B. Variation in sleep behaviour in free-living blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus: effects of sex, age and environment. Animal Behaviour. 2010;80(5):853-864.
Steinmeyer, C., Schielzeth, H., Mueller, J. C., & Kempenaers, B. (2010). Variation in sleep behaviour in free-living blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus: effects of sex, age and environment. Animal Behaviour, 80(5), 853-864.
Steinmeyer, C., Schielzeth, H., Mueller, J. C., and Kempenaers, B. (2010). Variation in sleep behaviour in free-living blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus: effects of sex, age and environment. Animal Behaviour 80, 853-864.
Steinmeyer, C., et al., 2010. Variation in sleep behaviour in free-living blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus: effects of sex, age and environment. Animal Behaviour, 80(5), p 853-864.
C. Steinmeyer, et al., “Variation in sleep behaviour in free-living blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus: effects of sex, age and environment”, Animal Behaviour, vol. 80, 2010, pp. 853-864.
Steinmeyer, C., Schielzeth, H., Mueller, J.C., Kempenaers, B.: Variation in sleep behaviour in free-living blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus: effects of sex, age and environment. Animal Behaviour. 80, 853-864 (2010).
Steinmeyer, Corinna, Schielzeth, Holger, Mueller, Jakob C., and Kempenaers, Bart. “Variation in sleep behaviour in free-living blue tits, Cyanistes caeruleus: effects of sex, age and environment”. Animal Behaviour 80.5 (2010): 853-864.
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