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In many territorial species, a fraction of all mature individuals are classified as floaters, and little is known about how these animals eventually acquire a breeding territory of their own. We observed intrusion behavior of floaters, subsequently removed breeding birds, and then observed floaters as they were filling these vacancies in an oystercatcher, Haematopus ostralegus, population. Birds familiar with the area and its inhabitants filled 80% of the experimentally created vacancies. Thesedoi:10.1093/beheco/arh019 fatcat:ixjgvke4qranfnpeedy7vrkx44