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Animal Behaviour
Journal Prestige (SJR): 1.58
Citation Impact (citeScore): 3
Number of Followers: 203  
 
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 0003-3472 - ISSN (Online) 1095-8282
Published by Elsevier Homepage  [3157 journals]
  • Individual plasticity in alternative reproductive tactics declines with
           social experience in male guppies
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Giovanni Polverino, Bianca M. Palmas, Jonathan P. Evans, Clelia GaspariniUnderstanding causes and consequences of behavioural plasticity is a major focus in animal behaviour studies for its importance to any population's ability to persist under changing environments. However, behavioural plasticity in traits linked to reproduction has received surprisingly limited attention, especially in species exhibiting alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs). In this study, we explored how behavioural plasticity in ARTs varies in response to social conditions in male guppies, Poecilia reticulata, an internally fertilizing fish in which males can switch between two ARTs to achieve matings. Males can either court receptive females using elaborate mating displays (courtship), or attempt forced copulations without prior display or female cooperation (sneaking). Although males have a genetic predisposition to engage predominantly in one tactic over the other, the extent to which social experience shapes individual plasticity in these tactics is unknown. We observed that between-individual variation in mating effort and preferred ARTs was repeatable over time and largely explained by variation in body size and coloration between individuals. Moreover, we showed experimentally that males exposed to social cues rapidly developed a preference towards either sneaking or courting, resulting in a rapid decline in individual plasticity compared to their socially deprived counterparts. These findings accord with the theoretical predictions that behavioural plasticity should decline as individuals incrementally adjust to local environmental conditions and, thus, when environmental uncertainty is reduced.
       
  • Red does not always outperform black: morph-specific behavioural variation
           in response to environmental changes
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Rita Fragueira, Michaël BeaulieuVariable selection pressures on individuals contribute to the occurrence of distinct phenotypes within species. Rapidly changing environmental conditions due to climate change are likely to alter these selection pressures and hence the current balance between phenotypes within species. In birds, colour polymorphism has been related to alternative behavioural strategies, potentially underlying different responses to extreme environmental conditions between colour morphs. Here, we examined how red- and black-headed Gouldian finches, Erythrura gouldiae, responded to experimentally induced heatwaves of different intensities by measuring their feeding behaviour, their response to novelty and their behavioural reactivity. As red-headed birds have been described as physiologically more plastic than black-headed birds, we expected them to alter their behaviour more strongly in response to heatwaves. Even though black-headed males fed overall less than other birds (thereby suggesting lower energy requirements), differences in feeding behaviour between morphs remained unaffected by thermal conditions. However, birds’ response to novelty varied between morphs under variable thermal conditions. Indeed, before thermal treatment, black-headed birds, irrespective of their sex, spent less time near a novel object than red-headed birds, thereby suggesting lower novelty interest. However, because only red-headed birds reduced the time spent close to a novel object during heatwaves, differences in novelty interest between morphs disappeared under these thermal conditions. These results suggest that behavioural plasticity in response to thermal conditions differ between colour morphs of Gouldian finches, thereby showing that behavioural differences between morphs are not static. How such behavioural adjustments within species affect the balance between colour morphs in natural populations facing extreme environmental conditions remains to be determined.
       
  • Social ontogeny in the communication system of an insect
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Camille Desjonquères, Jak Maliszewski, Emma Nicole Lewandowski, Bretta Speck, Rafael Lucas RodríguezIn humans and some other mammals and birds, the development of communication systems requires social feedback. How do such systems evolve from ancestral states featuring innate developmental mechanisms' We report evidence of a novel form of social ontogeny in the communication system of Enchenopa treehoppers that suggests an answer to this question. These insects use plant-borne vibrational signals throughout their lives. Signal repertoires of nymphs and adults differed and showed sexually dimorphic ontogenetic trajectories; individual differences projected into some of the features of adult signals and mate preferences. Signals and mate preferences differed between adults reared in isolation and adults reared in groups, but even individuals reared in isolation developed species-typical signals. In this type of social ontogeny, peer inputs cause variation in signals and preferences. Thus, even innate communication systems can be socially malleable. This may set the stage for the evolution of obligate social feedbacks in communication: the starting point is already socially plastic and does not require learning to arise de novo.
       
  • Sex-specific effects of testosterone on vocal output in a tropical
           suboscine bird
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Ioana Chiver, Barney A. SchlingerVocal signals are important in territoriality and mate attraction across animal taxa. Vocalizations are particularly elaborate in some groups, such as songbirds, which learn their songs, but much remains to be known about the physiological mechanisms that produce variation, especially in vocalizations of nonlearners. We address the extent that androgen treatment of female and juvenile golden-collared manakins, Manacus vitellinus, activate the male-like ‘chee-poo’ vocalization to determine (1) the extent that the vocal circuitry is developed and sensitive to androgens in females and (2) to identify the characteristics, including finer acoustic features, of vocal behaviour that are influenced by androgens in females and young males. We analysed recordings of nonbreeding females and juvenile males given implants containing testosterone (T) or blank implants during a period of 3 weeks in an outdoor aviary in Panama. T-treated females, but not control females, produced chee-poos, and their vocalizations showed consistent differences in acoustic features from those of males. This indicates that the neuromuscular systems are well developed or relatively rapidly developed in response to T administration in females. Both T-treated and control juvenile males produced chee-poos, although vocal production was higher in the treatment group. Surprisingly, T treatment of juvenile males resulted in chee-poos with increased acoustic similarity to those of females, such as increased duration and frequency bandwidth. These features may indicate an important role for chee-poos in aggressive interactions. Future work will address the contributions of central and peripheral components in vocal variation in golden-collared manakins.
       
  • Chestnut-collared longspurs reduce parental care in the presence of
           conventional oil and gas development and roads
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Christoph S. Ng, Paulson G. Des Brisay, Nicola KoperAnthropogenic disturbances such as energy extraction may affect numerous behavioural strategies, including competition for optimal nesting sites and predation risk avoidance. Impacts may result either from the structures themselves, or from associated anthropogenic noise and activity. Using surveillance cameras, we recorded behaviours of chestnut-collared longspurs, Calcarius ornatus, a threatened grassland songbird, at nests in a region of dense conventional oil development to determine whether increasing proximity to oil structures and roads had an impact on parental care and productivity. After behavioural analyses, we recorded age and size of breeding longspurs to test the alternative hypothesis that infrastructure and roads alter population demographics, which could in turn affect parental care. Parental care was consistently reduced near oil structures and roads, with additional effects attributed to noise and human activity. Females reduced parental care near roads, whereas males were more sensitive to noise and activity. While adult females were heavier and older near wells, they were smaller near roads; male morphometrics were independent of distance to roads or wells. Fewer offspring successfully fledged at nests near roads, and these offspring fledged at an older age, perhaps as a result of decreased care. Our results suggest that energy development in grasslands impacts parental care and alters demographic distributions. Increased perceived risk may explain some of the observed decrease in parental care; songbirds' reproductive strategies are altered near roads and energy infrastructure, potentially leading to decreased fitness. Mitigation measures should reduce effects of the presence of well infrastructure, roads, noise and activity to be effective.
       
  • Parasitism and queen presence interactively shape worker behaviour and
           fertility in an ant host
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Sara Beros, Carina Enders, Florian Menzel, Susanne FoitzikParasites with complex life cycles regularly alter host traits in their own interest. In social hosts, phenotypic alterations induced by parasites can also affect uninfected group members. The tapeworm Anomotaenia brevis uses Temnothorax nylanderi ants as intermediate hosts, reducing host activity and behavioural repertoire, but increasing life span. Uninfected nestmates are less active and less aggressive and suffer from higher mortality. Next to parasites, the social environment, such as the queen, influences worker behaviour, reproduction and longevity. Here, we studied how tapeworm parasitism interacts with the queen to affect the behaviour and reproductive potential of ant workers. We collected naturally parasitized and unparasitized ant colonies, and experimentally removed the sole queen in half of each colony type to induce worker reproduction. We examined the behaviour and ovary development of tapeworm-infected workers, uninfected nurses and uninfected foragers from parasitized and unparasitized colonies living under queenright and queenless conditions. Remarkably, fertility induction was most pronounced in tapeworm-infected workers, which quickly responded to queen removal by developing their ovaries. The fertility of nurses, known to have the highest reproductive potential and to be in close contact with infected workers, was not reduced by tapeworm parasitism. However, their behaviour was impacted by an interaction between parasitism and queen removal: nurses from parasitized, queenless colonies became less active, whereas no behavioural changes were observed in nurses from unparasitized colonies. Behaviour and ovary development of foragers were unaffected by the presence of tapeworm-infected workers and the queen. Our findings indicate that parasitism by a tapeworm increases rather than decreases the reproductive potential of infected workers. We further show that parasites and the presence of dominant group members interactively shape fertility and behaviour of infected and healthy group members.
       
  • The causal relationship between sexual selection and sexual size
           dimorphism in marine gastropods
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Terence P.T. Ng, Emilio Rolán-Alvarez, Sara Saltin Dahlén, Mark S. Davies, Daniel Estévez, Richard Stafford, Gray A. WilliamsSexual size dimorphism is widespread among dioecious species, but its underlying driving forces are often complex. A review of sexual size dimorphism in marine gastropods revealed two common patterns: first, sexual size dimorphism, with females being larger than males, and, second, females being larger than males in mating pairs. Both patterns suggest sexual selection and sexual size dimorphism are causally related. To test this hypothesis, we investigated, first, mechanisms driving sexual selection on size in three congeneric marine gastropods with different degrees of sexual size dimorphism, and, second, the correlation between male/female sexual selection and sexual size dimorphism across several marine gastropod species. Male mate choice via mucus trail following (as evidence of sexual selection) was found during the mating process in all three congeneric species, even though not all species showed sexual size dimorphism. There was also a significant and strong negative correlation between female sexual selection and sexual size dimorphism across 16 cases from seven marine gastropod species. These results suggest that sexual selection does not drive sexual size dimorphism. There was, however, evidence of males utilizing a similar mechanism to choose mates (i.e. selecting a female slightly larger than their own size) which may be widespread among gastropods, and, in tandem with sexual size dimorphism varying between species, provides a plausible explanation of the mating patterns observed in marine gastropods.
       
  • Guidelines for the treatment of animals in behavioural research and
           teaching
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s):
       
  • Mismatch in receiver responses to multimodal signals in a diurnal gecko
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Md Shakilur Kabir, Venkatesan Radhika, Maria ThakerMultimodal signals are used by many animals for intraspecific communication and can provide information about sex identity as well as quality of the signaller. In diurnal geckos of the genus Cnemaspis, chromatic colour patches in males evolved after chemical secretions, providing us with an opportunity to examine the utility of evolving multimodality. We quantified signal components and receiver responses in Cnemaspis mysoriensis to determine the relative importance of chemical and visual traits for intraspecific communication. Digital imagery and spectrophotometry of lizards revealed the presence of two distinct male morphs (yellow-gular and white-gular) and one female form (white-gular). All males, but no females, had yellow eye rims. Characterization of chemical secretions from the ventral precloacal and femoral glands of all lizard forms revealed no differences between male morphs. However, all males differed from females in a few key compounds. We then exposed lizards to only chemical stimuli, only visual stimuli, or both chemical and visual stimuli of conspecific males and females. We found that females were responsive to the chemical stimuli alone as well as the multimodal stimuli of males, whereas males were only responsive to the multimodal stimuli of other males. Neither chemical or visual components of females elicited a response from conspecifics. Thus, while the chemical secretions of males are sufficient for females to elicit a response, multimodal stimuli are necessary for males to respond. Based on variation in signalling traits and receiver responses, we conclude that: (1) chemical secretions signal both sex identity and male quality; (2) eye rim colour encodes information about sex identity; and (3) gular colour in males is probably not a redundant trait, providing some information to males, but not females. We conclude that the secondary evolution of visual signals in C. mysoriensis therefore enhances male–male social interactions and not communication in general.
       
  • Physiological differences between winter phenotypes of Siberian hamsters
           do not correlate with their behaviour
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Anna S. Przybylska, Michał S. Wojciechowski, Małgorzata JefimowLiving in a seasonally changing environment requires periodic, reversible changes in animals' phenotypes to match variations in their abiotic and biotic environments. These changes may relate to temperature regulation, torpor use, basal metabolic rate, body mass or behaviour, all acting in concert to ensure the best adjustment to the environmental challenges. As winter approaches, many small mammals develop a winter phenotype that is qualitatively and quantitatively different from a summer one. However, there is a significant within-population polymorphism in winter phenotype. We hypothesized that winter phenotype is correlated with consistent between-individual differences in animal behaviour, i.e. animal personality, and energy metabolism. We measured basal metabolic rate (BMR) and behavioural traits in three winter phenotypes of Siberian hamsters, Phodopus sungorus, which were acclimated to summer-like and then to winter-like conditions: fully responding, nonresponding and partially responding to a short photoperiod. We found no differences in behavioural traits between hamsters of different winter phenotypes, but the seasonal increase in activity was lowest in full responders indicating their lower behavioural flexibility than partial responders and nonresponders. The same was true for BMR. While nonresponders and partial responders increased their BMR from summer to winter, full responders did not change it. We argue that different winter phenotypes are maintained in the population because they could be beneficial under different environmental conditions. We also suggest that within a population there is a continuum of winter phenotypes, which is not related to differences in animal personalities. This continuum allows for population maintenance despite environmental conditions changing over short and long timescales.
       
  • Don't poke the bear: using tracking data to quantify behavioural syndromes
           in elusive wildlife
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Anne G. Hertel, Martin Leclerc, Dan Warren, Fanie Pelletier, Andreas Zedrosser, Thomas MuellerAnimal personality traits and the emergence of behavioural syndromes, i.e. between-individual correlation of behaviours, are commonly quantified from behavioural observations in controlled environments. Subjecting large and elusive wildlife to controlled test situations is, however, rarely possible, suggesting that ecologists should exploit alternative measures of behaviours for quantifying differences between individuals. Our goal was to test whether movement and space use data can be used to quantify behavioural syndromes in the wild. We quantified six behaviours from GPS and dual motion sensor tracking devices of 46 adult female brown bears followed in southcentral Sweden over the summer and early autumn. As well as daily travel distance, an indicator for activity, and daily displacement, an indicator for exploration, we quantified four behaviours that increase a bear's likelihood of encountering humans and could thus serve as indicators for boldness: diurnality, selection for roads and selection for two open habitat types, bogs and clearcuts, with low lateral cover. We tested (1) whether behaviours showed repeatable between-individual variation (animal personality) and (2) whether behaviours were correlated between individuals and thus formed a behavioural syndrome. Repeatability of behaviours ranged from 0.16 to 0.61 confirming between-individual variation in movement, activity and space use. A multivariate mixed model revealed significant positive correlations between travel distance, displacement and diurnality, suggesting the existence of an activity–exploration and potentially partial boldness syndrome in our bear population. Selection for exposed or human-frequented habitats were uncorrelated with the activity–exploration syndrome and with each other, albeit there was a trend for stronger road avoidance by bears that readily used clearcuts. We show that large tracking data sets can be used to quantify between-individual correlation in spatial behaviours. We suggest that delineating behavioural types from wildlife tracking data will be of increasing interest because of the importance of animal personality for ecological processes, wildlife conservation and human–wildlife coexistence.
       
  • When virginity matters: age and mating status affect female responsiveness
           in crickets
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Jessie C. Tanner, Laura M. Garbe, Marlene ZukBehavioural assays in which animals recognize, localize or discriminate among signals are broadly useful for answering an array of biological questions, but results can be sensitive to the characteristics of individuals, including age and mating status. Researchers may prefer to use young, unmated individuals in experiments both to control for the effects of mating and because younger and unmated individuals may respond more often or more quickly. In natural contexts, virgin females are likely to behave differently than mated females, especially in animals that store sperm for future use, because the costs and benefits of mating are different for these two groups. In species in which multiple mating is common, individuals are much more likely to have mated at least once at the time of any given mating event than they are to be virgins, suggesting the use of virgin subjects in experiments is not reflective of most natural mating decisions. We conducted a literature review to sample the methods employed in empirical studies that use crickets in phonotaxis assays. Many studies draw conclusions based only on virgins, and methods vary widely with respect to the age of individual subjects. We then conducted an empirical study of the effect of mating status and age on female phonotaxis behaviour in Teleogryllus oceanicus, the Pacific field cricket. Our results show that both age and mating status affect some commonly used measures of female responsiveness in phonotaxis assays: older females begin moving more quickly in phonotaxis tests, while virgins have shorter response latencies. These findings are consistent with the idea that the cost of remaining unmated increases with age, and that virgin females benefit from an initial mating more than mated females benefit from additional matings.
       
  • Sensory basis of navigation in snakes: the relative importance of eyes and
           pit organs
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Hannes A. Schraft, Rulon W. ClarkAnimal movements govern most ecological interactions, from predation to reproduction and survival. How animals move through the environment depends on available sensory information. Some snakes are able to perceive infrared (IR) radiation in addition to visible light. Research on this sensory system has been almost exclusively focused on predation, and researchers have largely found that vision and IR compensate for each other when one or the other is absent. However, IR sensing likely has much broader functions, including navigation in the environment. Many features in the environment of pit vipers are both visually and thermally salient and could be used for orientation. Here, we tested how vision and IR sensing interact in sidewinder rattlesnakes, Crotalus cerastes, in a simple navigation task in the field. Unlike in a predatory context, IR sensing did not compensate for the lack of vision. Snake movement paths were more tortuous, and snakes were less likely to encounter landmarks when eyes where occluded but were unaffected when pit organs were occluded. These findings suggest that the interaction between visual and IR cues may depend on context, and have important implications for our understanding of the evolution of IR sensing.
       
  • Acquisition of a complex extractive technique by the immature chimpanzees
           of Loango National Park, Gabon
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Vittoria Estienne, Benjamin Robira, Roger Mundry, Tobias Deschner, Christophe BoeschThe relative importance of individual and social learning in acquiring complex technological skills in animals is debated, especially the influence of processes allowing high copying fidelity (namely, imitation and teaching). We investigated how immature wild chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes troglodytes, acquired the technique for extracting underground honey. This technique is interesting because (1) adults perform exploration, pounding and perforation in nonrandom but highly flexible action sequences to locate underground bee nests, (2) they have individual preferences for how to perforate the ground and (3) the nests are deeply buried and concealed, making success difficult to achieve. We analysed the behaviour of 16 immatures recorded by camera traps at 50 sites, and tested the influence of individual attributes (namely, age and sex) and maternal behaviour; we also tested whether mothers provided learning opportunities for their offspring. We found that, as they aged, immatures of both sexes progressively matched adults' behaviour in action sequences and observed their social models more continuously. Immature males used the most common grip type used by adults for perforating (namely, the coordinated use of hands and feet) progressively more as they aged, but no effect of maternal preferences was detected. Thus, the adult technique was probably acquired via a combination of physical maturation (i.e. increased body strength and motor coordination) and observational learning, although individual learning could not be completely ruled out. Finally, the proportion of time mothers spent inactive at bee nest sites was high when they were accompanied by young daughters and decreased as daughters aged, while the opposite pattern was found for sons. Mothers may thus stimulate learning by immatures by adjusting their behaviour according to their offspring's sex and age. Overall, we showed that immature chimpanzees acquired this complex tool use behaviour via a combination of social and nonsocial learning processes, including potential maternal stimulation.
       
  • Adjustments in compound defensive strategies in response to variation in
           predation risk
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Etienne SirotPredation risk varies between populations and fluctuates with time. Using a theoretical approach, I studied how differences in this predation regime may influence allocation to antipredator defence in a foraging prey. I considered a set of two complementary defensive tactics, namely, the possibility for the prey to shorten its activity periods, to reduce exposure to predatory attacks and sacrifice some of its foraging time to vigilance, to get a better chance of escaping when under attack. The model reveals relatively complex behavioural adaptations, with important consequences for the energy balance of the animal. In particular, a hierarchy emerges between the two levels of decisions and, as a consequence, the two types of defensive tactics do not respond in a uniform way to changes in environmental conditions. Animals living in relatively safe habitats are thus expected to devote all their time to foraging and adjust their vigilance to the level of risk they endure, while animals living in more dangerous places are expected to adjust the length of their foraging periods to the prevailing level of risk. If the level of risk varies, the animals will avoid being active during infrequent, or particularly deadly, high-risk periods. If these periods become more frequent, or less dangerous, the animals will be fully active, and adjust their vigilance, during low-risk periods, and only partially active during high-risk periods. Finally, when dangerous periods further increase in length or decrease in intensity, the animals will use all available foraging time, and adjust their vigilance during both low- and high-risk periods to the predation regime. Antipredator strategies must then be perceived as a set of behavioural decisions, not only connected to one another, but also embedded within one another, which mediate energy transfers between three consecutive trophic levels.
       
  • A house of cards: bias in perception of body size mediates the
           relationship between voice pitch and perceptions of dominance
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): M.M. Armstrong, A.J. Lee, D.R. FeinbergTheories of the evolution of low voice pitch in men are based on the idea that voice pitch is an honest indicator of physical dominance, but relationships among pitch, physical body size and strength among same-sex adults' voices are weak and unstable. Nevertheless, judgements of body size based on voice pitch are the result of perceptual bias that low frequencies sound large. If dominance judgements are based in part on perception of size, then dominance perception could also be the result of perceptual bias. Thus, we tested whether the relationship between voice pitch and judgements of height mediate the relationship between voice pitch and dominance judgements. The relationship between voice pitch and perceived height fully mediated the relationship between voice pitch and dominance. This was driven by the portion of variance that was inaccurate in height perception (i.e. residual error), and not conditional upon actual height, or perceptions thereof. Collectively our results demonstrate that the relationship between voice pitch and perceived dominance is not based on observation of real-world relationships between physical size and voice pitch, but rather based on a bias to perceive low-pitched voices as large people. Hence, the relationship between dominance and voice pitch is coincidental rather than causal. Thus, since the relationship between physical dominance and voice pitch is conditional upon the relationship between a biased perception of body size, voice pitch is not an honest indicator of physical dominance. Consequently, the evolution of low pitch in men's voices cannot be explained by selection for accurate dominance cues.
       
  • Context-dependent variation of house finch song syntax
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Ivy Ciaburri, Heather WilliamsWe explored the role of social context in the syntactical variation of house finch, Haemorhous mexicanus, songs using both traditional song measures and network analysis. In comparison to solo bouts, the bouts of countersinging males had increased syntax diversity, with higher numbers of simple paths and transition types (but not syllable types) in comparison to solo song, which had high sequence consistency. Both the proportion of introductory syllables and the degree (number of transitions to and from those syllables) increased in countersinging bouts and were an important source of syntactic variability. In contrast, courtship bouts included longer songs and longer syllables than both solo and countersinging bouts, but were similar to solo songs in sequence consistency. The longest courtship songs often included concatenated sequences that formed ‘compound songs’, or repeating strings of main song syllables, which slightly increased the degree of those syllables. Our results suggest that interactions between males are associated with increased syntactic variability in song delivery while female choice favours signals that maintain species-typical syntax and demonstrate fitness in terms of a male's capacity to sing extended songs.
       
  • Plasticity of boldness: high perceived risk eliminates a relationship
           between boldness and body size in fathead minnows
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Denis Meuthen, Maud C.O. Ferrari, Taylor Lane, Douglas P. ChiversIn the face of anthropogenic change, we require a better understanding of how adaptive behavioural changes emerge from the interaction between personality and phenotypic plasticity, to be able to predict population persistence. Predation is an important context where this interaction occurs. Sampling wild fish populations revealed that boldness is size dependent in habitats with low predation risk but not in high predation habitats. This is predicted to occur due to a trade-off between a prey's metabolic demand, as per the metabolic hypothesis (smaller fish have higher metabolic requirements and thus need to be bolder) and their risk of predation, as per the predation risk hypothesis (smaller fish are subject to higher predation risk and should thus be shyer). However, since selective predation on specific individuals, age effects or the extent of direct experience with predators were not controlled for in these studies, the role of body size in modulating boldness remains unclear. Here, we tested the relationship between body size, boldness and predation risk in a widespread North American prey fish, the fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas. From hatching onwards, we manipulated perceived risk by exposing minnows to either conspecific alarm cues (indicative of predation risk) or distilled water in a split-clutch design. When fish were 4 months old, we measured body size and determined boldness using an emergence assay. Different levels of perceived predation risk did not directly affect body size or general boldness in fathead minnows. However, as predicted by the metabolic and predation risk hypotheses, high perceived predation risk cancelled out the negative correlation between boldness and body size present in controls through phenotypic plasticity. This effect was independent of selective predation, direct experience with predators and age. By adjusting personality through phenotypic plasticity, perceived predation risk alone may thus be sufficient for individuals to maximize their fitness in high-risk habitats.
       
  • Association Page
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s):
       
  • Editors Page
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s):
       
  • Playbacks of Asian honey bee stop signals demonstrate referential
           inhibitory communication
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Shihao Dong, Ken Tan, Qi Zhang, James C. NiehReferential communication provides a sophisticated way in which animals can communicate information about their environment. Previously, research demonstrated that honey bee stop signals encode predator danger in their fundamental frequency and danger context in their duration. Here, we show that these signals also encode danger in their vibrational amplitude. Stop signals elicited by the more dangerous predator, the large hornet (Vespa mandarinia) had significantly 1.5-fold higher vibrational amplitudes than those elicited by the small hornet predator (Vespa velutina). We measured the freezing vibrational response thresholds, and show that natural signals exceed these response thresholds. Finally, with artificial playbacks of the vibratory stop signal, we demonstrate that these signals referentially encode the danger that foragers experience at food source. Stop signals elicited by the larger and significantly more dangerous predator (V. mandarinia) were significantly 1.4-fold more inhibitory than stop signals elicited by the smaller and less dangerous predator (V. velutina).
       
  • Current energy state interacts with the developmental environment to
           influence behavioural plasticity
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Raphaël Royauté, Courtney Garrison, Jeremy Dalos, Monica A. Berdal, Ned A. DochtermannThere is increasing evidence that among-individual differences in behaviour are, in part, generated by environmental effects. For example, diet quality can have drastically different effects on behavioural variation depending on whether it acts primarily during ontogeny (i.e. as a permanent environmental effect) or has an immediate effect on trait expression as a consequence of energy intake (i.e. temporary source of variation). Moreover, whether diet quality has a stronger effect on a trait's average expression, its variance or its covariance with other traits, remains unclear. We used a 2 × 2 factorial design crossing life stage (juvenile and adult) and diet quality (low- or high-energy content) to disentangle the effects of developmental and adult diets on the expression of behavioural differences. We tested 281 crickets for their activity levels, responses to predator cues and body mass. Neither developmental diet nor adulthood diet had any effect on population means or on the expression of an activity–antipredator response syndrome, suggesting a genetic basis for this syndrome. We did find evidence for increases in the within-individual variance as a result of exposure to a high-quality diet. However, these increases were only found for antipredator response and body mass. This indicates that diets with higher energy content can increase the potential for behavioural plasticity in antipredator response. In addition to changes in within-individual variation in behaviour, diet quality during development also mediated the links between maturation time and exploratory behaviours. More exploratory crickets matured faster when exposed to the low-quality developmental diet, but this relation was absent in the high-quality diet treatment. Our results show that changes in developmental diet quality can mediate the relationship between life history and behavioural traits later in life.
       
  • Adjustment of total activity as a response to handicapping European
           starlings during parental care
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Mitchell W. Serota, Tony D. WilliamsParental care is widely assumed to be costly, and life-history theory predicts that individuals that invest more in parental care should benefit in terms of number of offspring produced but that increased parental care might come at a cost in terms of decreased future fecundity and/or survival. However, the notion that parents that work ‘harder’, commonly measured by the rate at which parents visit the nestbox to provision their chicks, produce more, fitter chicks is surprisingly poorly supported. One potential reason for this apparent lack of relationship between measured workload during parental care and breeding productivity is that nest visit rate does not provide a good measure of foraging effort. Here, we used an automated radiotelemetry system to measure activity of individual female European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, during breeding, combined with a handicapping experiment (combination of radiotransmitters and wing clipping) and measures of foraging metrics, current breeding productivity, future fecundity and return rate. Handicapping decreased current breeding success due to higher abandonment and nest failure, but among successful birds (fledging ≥ 1 chick) there was no effect of handicapping on brood size at fledging for the current breeding attempt. Handicapping decreased future fecundity, the probability of initiating a second brood, and return rate, but there was no evidence for additive costs of reproduction in wing-clipped females. Handicapping had no effect on provisioning rate but automated tracking data showed that, during chick rearing, wing-clipped females had 22% lower activity compared to females with radios only. Our data provide an explanation for the often contradictory effects of handicapping reported on reproductive effort and costs of reproduction: individuals can use behavioural flexibility – decreasing overall activity while maintaining provisioning rate – along with changes in mass and nestling diet to mitigate putative effects of increased workload imposed by handicapping.
       
  • When to fight' Disentangling temperature and circadian effects on
           aggression and agonistic contests
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): K. Nguyen, Z.R. StahlschmidtAgonistic behaviour is an important component of intraspecific competition because outcomes of agonistic contests can serve as indicators of fitness, helping the victors secure critical resources. Although several factors affecting aggression, including age and body size, have been well documented, few studies have examined the effects of abiotic factors on aggression and outcomes of agonistic contests. Abiotic factors affect a broad range of behaviours and can naturally covary, but some factors are becoming increasingly uncoupled. For example, ongoing climate change continues to shift temperature, but not light:dark, cycles. Thus, we employed a 2 × 2 factorial design in sand field crickets, Gryllus firmus, to disentangle the naturally covarying effects of temperature and circadian rhythms. During early adulthood, virgin males were maintained in either a typical or inverted diel temperature cycle (i.e. cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon, or warm in the morning and cool in the afternoon, respectively) reflecting field conditions (20.5–32 °C). Agonistic contests occurred at either cool (22 °C) or warm (31 °C) periods in the temperature cycle. Morphological traits, such as head width, femur length and testes mass, positively covaried and influenced the outcome of contests where relatively large crickets won most contests. However, temperature and time of day had additive, interactive effects on the level of aggression and the duration of contests. Contests occurring in cool, morning conditions were relatively long and aggressive. Although crickets appeared to use a mutual assessment strategy (contests between males of mismatched body size took longer to initiate), there may have been a context-dependent shift to a self-assessment strategy during warm evenings. Thus, plasticity in agonistic behaviour occurred due to the interactive, additive effects of temperature and circadian dynamics. We encourage continued investigation into studies that disentangle the effects of temperature and circadian effects on other fitness-related behaviours, such as mate choice or foraging.
       
  • Females increase parental care, but not fecundity, when mated to
           high-quality males in a biparental fish
    • Abstract: Publication date: February 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 148Author(s): Ashley R. Robart, Barry SinervoPositive differential allocation predicts that females will increase their parental investment when mated to high-quality males due to the benefits that these males provide to offspring. Differential allocation predicts trade-offs between current and future reproduction, but investment trade-offs can also occur within a breeding event for species that provide parental care. However, differential allocation studies that have examined investment in both gametic effort and parental care remain rare and have only been conducted in birds. Fish may have more conservative investment strategies due to the large effect that current reproductive investment has on future reproductive potential. We examined gametic effort and parental care in the convict cichlid, Amatitlania siquia, a biparental fish, in response to male size, a proxy for quality. We randomly mated females to either large or small males and measured fecundity and parental behaviour of both parents. Females mated to large males did not increase their fecundity, but did provide more parental care to offspring during the larval stage, which is when male desertion in natural populations is most likely. Male size did not predict the amount of paternal care provided to offspring during the larval stage. Female condition at the end of the breeding event was negatively associated with higher fecundity and level of maternal care provided. The observed pattern of maternal investment suggests that females limit costs to future reproduction by limiting their increased investment to only one component of their reproductive effort. The increase in maternal investment during the larval stage may also serve to stabilize the pair bond and ensure continued male care, which ultimately increases the reproductive success of both parents. These results highlight important taxonomic and parental care pattern differences and broaden our understanding of the factors that influence differential allocation in diverse taxa.
       
  • Rules, rhythm and grouping: auditory pattern perception by birds
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 December 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Carel ten Cate, Michelle SpieringsBoth language and music are universal and characteristic for humans. The evolution of the cognitive abilities underlying language and music are widely debated. A core question is whether these abilities find their origins in a modification or extension of general cognitive abilities for processing auditory input also present in other species. If so, comparative studies of nonhuman animals should reveal similarities in processing abilities. In this paper, we review some examples of such studies. We focus on whether birds (in particular zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, and budgerigars, Melopsittacus undulates) can detect structural patterns based on relational rather than on physical similarities among auditory stimuli – an essential ability for processing and producing language and music. We briefly discuss why birds are suitable model species. Next, we discuss three domains of pattern detection: the ability to (1) detect ‘grammatical rules’ underlying sound strings; (2) perceive regular rhythms and (3) spontaneously group separate sounds into a larger pattern. In all of these there is evidence that birds show some ability to detect relational patterns. However, there is also variation between species: while budgerigars show relational rule learning, zebra finches attend to local physical similarities between sound strings used for training and testing. For rhythm detection, zebra finches and budgerigars show no clear differences. However, a broader comparison indicates that here too differences are present in the extent to which different bird species attend to relational patterns or to local features. Finally, spontaneous grouping of sounds was shown in zebra finches. The clear variation among bird species in their perceptual and cognitive abilities, in combination with their accessibility for experimental studies, provides opportunities to study the variation in auditory processing mechanisms and how these evolved. This may also provide hypotheses for the evolution of these abilities in humans.
       
  • Sexual selection on female collared lizards favours offspring production
           with multiple males
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Joshua R. York, Troy A. BairdFemales in diverse vertebrate and invertebrate clades often mate and produce offspring with multiple male partners. Deciphering the evolutionary mechanisms underlying the origins of females producing offspring with multiple sires remains a challenging problem, because a single male can usually provide enough sperm to fertilize all eggs produced by individual females. We tested the hypothesis that having multiple males sire individual clutches is adaptive for female eastern collared lizards, Crotaphytus collaris, by examining both the fitness costs and benefits for females of producing offspring with one versus multiple male partners. We found no support for the hypothesis that females produce offspring with multiple sires to acquire access to higher-quality food resources or refuges. However, hatching success of clutches increased with the number of males that inseminated eggs, which suggests that accepting sperm from multiple males may improve offspring hatching success through one or more mechanisms. Our results also indicate that females producing offspring with multiple male partners gained genetic advantages. Although offspring mortality from clutches sired by one versus multiple males was similar, females producing clutches sired by multiple males had more total offspring that survived to maturity, resulting in a net fitness advantage for these females. Our results suggest that producing offspring with multiple males is adaptive for female collared lizards because it promotes acquisition of several fitness benefits.
       
  • Elevated temperatures reduce discrimination between conspecific and
           heterospecific sexual signals
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Casey M. Coomes, Raymond M. Danner, Elizabeth P. DerryberryHeat waves are rapidly increasing in frequency and length around the globe. These periods of elevated temperatures are inducing extreme thermal stress in many organisms. One dramatic result of heat waves is mass mortality events, notably in birds. Although much attention is given to lethal events, little is known about how more common sublethal temperatures affect behaviour, especially in endotherms. For example, male song sparrows, Melospiza melodia atlantica, sing at lower rates at higher temperatures. We hypothesized that simulated heat waves may also reduce the ability of females to discriminate between sexual signals. We tested this hypothesis by quantifying whether female zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, responded more to conspecific song or heterospecific song while at their typical housing temperature compared to temperatures above their upper critical temperature. We collected data on how often the birds selected conspecific over heterospecific songs and how much effort the birds invested in sampling those songs using a matched-pairs design. During housing temperature trials, females preferred conspecific song compared to heterospecific song. In contrast, females no longer showed a preference for conspecific song at temperatures above their upper critical limit, although the birds invested similar effort in sampling songs in both treatments. Our findings provide the first experimental evidence that high temperatures affect female preference for a mating signal in an endotherm. Our results highlight the need for future work to investigate this overlooked effect of climate change on endotherms. Because thermoregulatory processes are phylogenetically conserved, our results generate useful predictions for future studies of heat wave effects on mating behaviours in endotherms.
       
  • The development and evolution of specialized face learning in paper wasps
    • Abstract: Publication date: January 2019Source: Animal Behaviour, Volume 147Author(s): Elizabeth A. Tibbetts, John Den Uyl, Madeleine Dwortz, Cailin McLeanSome animals are thought to exhibit cognitive specialization, as they have specialized cognitive modules that solve specific social or ecological problems instead of one general-purpose mechanism that addresses diverse problems. Although there are many examples of specialized cognition, little is known about whether specialization develops through experience or is produced by innate, species-specific differences. Previous work has shown that Polistes fuscatus wasps use face recognition to individually identify other wasps and that P. fuscatus are specialized for learning conspecific faces. Here, we test how experimentally altering face experience in three Polistes species influences the development of face specialization. We show face learning is influenced by both experience and innate, species-specific differences. In P. fuscatus, experience with conspecific faces is not required for the development of face specialization. In two related Polistes species that naturally lack individual face recognition, Polistes metricus and Polistes dominula, experience has different effects on specialization. Polistes metricus, a close relative of P. fuscatus, develops face specialization with experience. However, P. dominula, a more distant relative, uses general pattern recognition to learn faces regardless of experience. Therefore, some species have innate mechanistic architecture that facilitates the development of face specialization, while other species do not. These results suggest that selection shapes animal minds in a modular manner. The capacity for specialized cognitive skills evolves in response to specific ecological or social demands, such as social benefits associated with accurate individual face recognition.
       
  • A taste for the beautiful: The evolution of attraction, M.J. Ryan (Ed.).
           Princeton University Press (2018), x+200. $27.95 hardback
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 November 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): W. Tecumseh Fitch
       
  • Twenty-five years of cognitive ecology
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 22 November 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): John M. Ratcliffe, Steven M. Phelps
       
  • Environmental variability, the value of information, and learning in
           winter residents
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 16 October 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): J. Morand-Ferron, E. Hermer, T.B. Jones, M.J. ThompsonCognitive processes related to the collection, storage and use of information (e.g. learning, memory) contribute to reducing uncertainty about the environment and can thus be key to survival and reproduction. However, information processing is rarely cost-free, and thus cognitive adaptations are expected to be fined-tuned to prevailing ecological and social conditions. Models and laboratory experiments underline the importance of environmental variability in determining the value of information; however, we still know very little on the link between environmental variability and cognitive abilities in wild populations. Here we outline a series of studies in which we assessed information use and learning in conspecifics living along two ecological gradients that impact variability of the food supply: elevation and urbanization. While low- and high-elevation great tits, Parus major, were found to differ in accuracy in a reversal learning task, the difference was in the direction opposite to our prediction, with low-elevation birds outperforming their high-elevation counterparts. Furthermore, we found no relationship between urbanization and spatial memory accuracy in black-capped chickadees, Poecile atricapillus, despite urban habitats being known to harbour more stable food supplies during the winter and, thus, potentially providing lower incentive to invest in food hoarding and spatial memory. However, as predicted, chickadees in urban habitats explored a new environment faster and seemed to rely less heavily on social information about novel food patches compared to forest chickadees. Our results point to the need to better link predictive models with experienced fluctuations in food availability for individual foragers and to take into account social as well as ecological variables that can impact the value of information and may covary along natural gradients of harshness.
       
  • Behaviour shapes environmental variation and selection on learning and
           plasticity: review of mechanisms and implications
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 19 September 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Emilie C. Snell-Rood, Meredith K. SteckBiologists have long been interested in the factors that maintain variation in learning and plasticity within and between species, especially given the role of such flexibility in coping with novel and changing environments. A large body of theoretical and empirical work has established the role of environmental variation in selecting for learning and plasticity, suggesting that simple measures of such variation could serve as proxies for organismal flexibility. However, a wide range of behavioural and physiological traits can shape how organisms experience environmental variation, and thus how plasticity is shaped by selection. Given that these traits themselves can evolve, this sets up the potential for complex feedbacks in the evolution of learning and plasticity. We begin this review by first detailing the wide variety of behavioural traits that shape environmental variation, ranging from exploration and dispersal to sensory biases and habitat choice. We then review relevant theory that suggests how such behavioural traits can modify selection on learning and plasticity, often favouring the evolution of specialization in heterogeneous environments by reducing the variation that organisms experience. When models allow behavioural traits to jointly evolve with plasticity, model outcomes differ and complex evolutionary feedbacks may emerge. We suggest that further theoretical insights could be gained by incorporating more nuances of development and behaviour, such as variation in the developmental window of environmental sensitivity of traits or differences in exploratory periods prior to breeding. Finally, this review discusses implications of this perspective for understanding the maintenance of genetic variation in learning, differences in colonization and survival in novel environments and making predictions about how species will cope with environmental change.
       
  • Components of change and the evolution of learning in theory and
           experiment
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 28 June 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Aimee S. Dunlap, Matthew W. Austin, Andreia FigueiredoTheoretical treatments of the evolution of learning have a long and rich history, and although many aspects remain unresolved, the consensus is that the predictability and timescale of environmental change play a crucial role in when learning evolves. Directly testing these ideas has proven difficult because comparative experiments must assume many often unknowable aspects of an evolutionary past. Even within the present, identifying and accurately quantifying the relevant types of change can be problematic. Controlling or manipulating change can be difficult in many taxa. Within the theory, what is meant by change can markedly vary between models. Here, we present a targeted comparison of models to show this variation, and argue that standardizing measures of change can add tractability to models. We first review how change is emphasized in models of learning evolution and then describe the still small literature that directly tests the evolution of learning via digital evolution and experimental evolution. We then give an example of how to tie specific natural history to larger theory on learning evolution using the flag model of reliability and certainty and foraging in bumblebees. Learning, by its nature, is of fundamental importance to many fields. Theoretical treatments of learning evolution have been growing at a rapid pace, often with limited empirical applicability to natural systems and little congruence on what is meant by change across models. By explicitly defining change and tying models to natural systems, we can greatly increase our ability to not only understand when learning should evolve, but also when learning does evolve.
       
  • Culture and cultural evolution in birds: a review of the evidence
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 9 June 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Lucy M. AplinSocial learning from the observation of knowledgeable individuals can allow behaviours, skills and techniques to spread across populations and transmit between generations, potentially leading to emergent cultures. An increasing body of research has not only evidenced the occurrence of cultural behaviour in nonhuman animals, but also hypothesized that such cultures could ‘evolve’ over time in a way that shares key characteristics with biological evolution, including through a process of selection on variance, inheritance and adaptation. Outside of humans, song and contact calls in birds provide by far the most comprehensive evidence for culture and cultural evolution. However, birds have often been considered ‘one-trick cultural ponies’, only exhibiting significant diversity in this single component of their behavioural repertoire. Recent studies have begun to challenge this view. Here, I review the evidence across multiple behavioural domains for wild cultures in birds. I then discuss the evidence in birds for four key concepts of cultural evolution: (1) variation, selection, inheritance, (2) adaptation, (3) geographical and demographic processes and (4) the accumulation of modifications. I incorporate the evidence from birdsong with other behavioural domains for each key concept and identify important gaps in knowledge. Finally, I discuss how taking a cultural evolution perspective can be informative for our understanding of cognitive ecology more broadly.
       
  • Animal expertise: mechanisms, ecology and evolution
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 5 June 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Reuven DukasExpertise consists of the features that allow individuals with extensive experience on a given complex task to show superior performance on that task compared to novices. While expertise has been investigated mostly in humans, it is highly relevant for other species as well because it can have strong effects on fitness. Moreover, studying expertise in nonhumans can help us understand human expertise. Several features that distinguish experts within their domain of expertise from novices include (1) greater long-term memory, (2) larger capacity of working memory, (3) better ability to focus attention on the most relevant concurrent tasks, (4) superior ability to anticipate, perceive and comprehend the relevant elements in one's surroundings, (5) quicker and better decisions, and (6) faster and more coordinated motor movements. The development of expertise follows a characteristic pattern of gradual improvement in performance over extended periods devoted to practising a given complex task. Heritable variation in a few traits can affect the rate of expertise acquisition and its peak levels. These traits include motivation to practise, perseverance, basic cognitive abilities such as attention span, working memory capacity, learning rates and memory retention, and various physiological, anatomical and morphological features. Key environmental factors influencing expertise development are parental and social settings, which may encourage investment in the extended practice necessary for achieving superior performance on complex tasks. Future work on the evolutionary biology of expertise should focus on the yet unknown neurobiological mechanisms that underlie it, heritable variation in the traits that enable expertise and their genetic basis, further quantifications of expertise acquisition in natural settings, the fitness consequences of the traits that facilitate top expert performance, and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of expertise.
       
  • The cognition of ‘nuisance’ species
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 30 May 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Lisa P. Barrett, Lauren A. Stanton, Sarah Benson-AmramRecent work in animal cognition has focused on how animals respond to new or changing environments. Although many species are currently in decline, other species are thriving in human-altered habitats by taking advantage of new resources and opportunities associated with anthropogenic disturbance. Yet, as a result, these same species are often in conflict with humans and treated as a nuisance. Therefore, cognitive abilities such as innovation and behavioural flexibility may, paradoxically, lead to the demise of especially adaptive individuals. Here we review what is known about the cognition of ‘nuisance’ species and ‘problem’ individuals to shed light on the struggles of coexistence with humans along disturbed landscapes. We take an in-depth look at several cognitive abilities that are hypothesized to be of critical importance for species that are successfully utilizing human-altered environments, including neophilia, boldness, categorization, innovation, memory, learning, social learning and behavioural flexibility, and examine evidence that these cognitive abilities may also bring animals into conflict with humans. We also highlight some examples of species that may be using cognitive mechanisms to change their behaviour to avoid conflict with humans. We then discuss the role of animal cognition in current mitigation strategies that have been developed to address human–wildlife conflict. Additionally, we consider the role that human behaviour and perception of animals might play in either worsening or lessening conflict with wildlife. Finally, we propose some directions for future research and suggest that empirical investigation of ‘nuisance’ animal cognition could reveal the cognitive mechanisms underlying adaptation to anthropogenic change as well as help mitigate human–wildlife conflict.
       
  • ‘Crazy love’: nonlinearity and irrationality in mate choice
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 18 May 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Michael J. Ryan, Rachel A. Page, Kimberly L. Hunter, Ryan C. TaylorChoosing a mate is one of the most important decisions an animal can make. The fitness consequences of mate choice have been analysed extensively, and its mechanistic bases have provided insights into how animals make such decisions. Less attention has been given to higher-level cognitive processes. The assumption that animals choose mates predictably and rationally is an important assumption in both ultimate and proximate analyses of mate choice. It is becoming clear, however, that irrational decisions and unpredictable nonlinearities often characterize mate choice. Here we review studies in which cognitive analyses seem to play an important role in the following contexts: auditory grouping; Weber's law; competitive decoys; multimodal communication; and, perceptual rescue. The sum of these studies suggest that mate choice decisions are more complex than they might seem and suggest some caution in making assumptions about evolutionary processes and simplistic mechanisms of mate choice.
       
  • Spatial memory and cognitive flexibility trade-offs: to be or not to be
           flexible, that is the question
    • Abstract: Publication date: Available online 21 March 2018Source: Animal BehaviourAuthor(s): Maria C. Tello-Ramos, Carrie L. Branch, Dovid Y. Kozlovsky, Angela M. Pitera, Vladimir V. PravosudovCognitive flexibility allows animals to readily acquire new information even when learning contingencies may rapidly change, as is the case in highly variable, but predictable, environments. While cognitive flexibility is broadly thought to be beneficial, animals exhibit inter- and intraspecific variation, with higher levels of flexibility associated with reduced memory retention and vice versa. In this review, we discuss when and why such variation may exist and focus specifically on memory and memory flexibility. We argue that retained memories may negatively affect the acquisition of new information, most likely via proactive interference, and available data suggest that there may be a trade-off between memory retention and acquiring new memories. We discuss neurogenesis-mediated forgetting as the mechanism reducing memory interference, as new neurons enhance learning new information but also cause forgetting of older memories. Selection may be expected to favour either end of the continuum between memory retention and memory flexibility depending on life history and environment. More stable environments may favour memory retention over flexibility whereas rapidly changing environments may favour flexibility over retention. Higher memory capacity also seems to be associated with higher memory interference, so higher neurogenesis rates associated with forgetting of unnecessary information may be favoured when higher capacity is beneficial such as in food-caching species. More research is necessary to understand whether inter- and intraspecific differences in the association between memory retention and flexibility are related to some general ecological patterns, whether this association is heritable, and whether developmental conditions and experience have different effects on this association in different species.
       
 
 
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