LEARNING AMONG BIRDS

Newman Lab Newman_lab at qm.c-zoo.siu.edu
Thu Feb 15 15:41:31 EST 1996


BobB at ikaroa.monz.govt.nz (Bob Brockie) wrote:

>Somewhere, these claims about  blue tits teaching each other to open milk
>bottles, and Japanese monkeys who were thought to have taught each other to
>wash potatoes before eating them, have been refuted by careful experimental
>work on caged animals.  Each animal learned the knack independently and no
>skills were passed from animal to animal.  Another popular myth demolished
>by spoil-sport experimentalists!   I think this was reported in the journal
>Animal Behaviour about 5 -10 years ago.  If anybody has the reference or
>could put me in touch with the authors I'd be most grateful .
>


You might be referring to notes by Sherry and Galef (1984, 1990).  They found in the first note that the exposure to environmental modifications may be enough to initiate the exploitation of a novel food source by naive birds.  However, in the second note they found that birds were significantly more likely to perform when conspecifics were present, either directly tutoring or simply being present with the modification (in this case an open cream tub).  Even more recently, researchers have found evidence of social learning in rats (Galef 1993, Galef & Whiskin 1994, Galef & Wright 1995, Laland & Plotkin 1990, 1991) and  pigeons (Giraldeau & Lefevbre 1987, Giraldeau & Templeton 1991, Lefebvre 1986, Lefebvre & Giraldeau 1994) along with numerous other studies.  The reasons and mechanisms of social learning differ in many of these cases, and the ecological implications present interesting questions.  Whether active teaching occurs or not is another question entirely.


Timothy Hadlock
Southern Illinois University



Galef, B. G. Jr.  1993.  Functions of social learning about food:  a causal analysis of effects of diet novelty on preference transmission.  Animal Behaviour 46:257-265.

Galef, B. G. Jr. &  E. E. Whiskin. 1994.  Passage of time reduces effects of familiarity on social learning:  functional implications.  Animal Behaviour 48:1057-1062.

Galef, B. G. Jr. & T. J. Wright.  1995.  Groups of naive rats learn to select nutritionally adequate foods faster than do isolated rats.  Animal Behaviour 49:403-409.

Giraldeau, L.-A. & L. Lefebvre.  1987.  Scounging prevents cultural transmission of food-finding behaviour in pigeons.  Animal Behaviour 35:387-394.

Giraldeau, L.-A. & J. J. Templeton.  1991.  Food scrounging and diffusion of foraging skills in pigeons, Columbia livia:  the importance of tutor and observer rewards.  Ethology 89:63-72.

Laland, K. N. & H. C. Plotkin.  1990.  Social learning and social transmission of foraging information in Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus).  Animal Learning Behavior 18:246-251.

Laland, K. N. & H. C. Plotkin.  1991.  Excretory deposits surrounding food sites facilitate social learning of food preferences in Norway rats.  Animal Behaviour 41:997-1005.

Lefebvre, L.  1986.  Cultural diffusion of a novel food-finding behaviour in urban pigeons:  an experimental field test.  Ethology 71:295-304.

Lefebvre, L. & L.-A. Giraldeau.  1994.  Cultural transmission in pigeons is affected by the number of tutors and bystanders present.  Animal Behaviour 47:331-337.

McQuoid, L. M. & B. G. Galef.  1994.  Effects of access to food during training on social learning by Burmese red junglefowl.  Animal Behaviour 48:737-739.

Sherry, D. F. & B. G. Galef Jr.  1984.  Cultural transmission without imitation:  milk bottle opening by birds.  Animal Behaviour 32:937-938.

Sherry, D. F. & B. G. Galef Jr.  1990.  Social learning without imitation:  more about milk bottle opening by birds.  Animal Behaviour 40:987-989.




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