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Diffusion of novel foraging behaviour in Amazon parrots through social learning

Morales Picard, Alejandra; Hogan, Lauren; Lambert, Megan L LU ; Wilkinson, Anna; Seed, Amanda M and Slocombe, Katie E (2017) In Animal Cognition 20(2). p.285-298
Abstract

While social learning has been demonstrated in species across many taxa, the role it plays in everyday foraging decisions is not well understood. Investigating social learning during foraging could shed light on the emergence of cultural variation in different groups. We used an open diffusion experiment to examine the spread of a novel foraging technique in captive Amazon parrots. Three groups were tested using a two-action foraging box, including experimental groups exposed to demonstrators using different techniques and control birds. We also examined the influence of agonistic and pilfering behaviour on task acquisition. We found evidence of social learning: more experimental birds than control birds interacted with and opened the... (More)

While social learning has been demonstrated in species across many taxa, the role it plays in everyday foraging decisions is not well understood. Investigating social learning during foraging could shed light on the emergence of cultural variation in different groups. We used an open diffusion experiment to examine the spread of a novel foraging technique in captive Amazon parrots. Three groups were tested using a two-action foraging box, including experimental groups exposed to demonstrators using different techniques and control birds. We also examined the influence of agonistic and pilfering behaviour on task acquisition. We found evidence of social learning: more experimental birds than control birds interacted with and opened the box. The birds were, however, no more likely to use the demonstrated technique than the non-demonstrated one, making local or stimulus enhancement the most likely mechanism. Exhibiting aggression was positively correlated with box opening, whilst receiving aggression did not reduce motivation to engage with the box, indicating that willingness to defend access to the box was important in task acquisition. Pilfering food and success in opening the box were also positively correlated; however, having food pilfered did not affect victims' motivation to interact with the box. In a group context, pilfering may promote learning of new foraging opportunities. Although previous studies have demonstrated that psittacines are capable of imitation, in this naturalistic set-up there was no evidence that parrots copied the demonstrated opening technique. Foraging behaviour in wild populations of Amazons could therefore be facilitated by low-fidelity social learning mechanisms.

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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Social learning , Open diffusion, Two-action test, Parrots, Amazona amazonica
in
Animal Cognition
volume
20
issue
2
pages
285 - 298
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:84992417323
ISSN
1435-9456
DOI
10.1007/s10071-016-1049-3
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
66b770bc-32a0-479a-a514-16691a3a98e7
date added to LUP
2017-09-06 14:59:17
date last changed
2017-09-12 16:56:11
@article{66b770bc-32a0-479a-a514-16691a3a98e7,
  abstract     = {<p>While social learning has been demonstrated in species across many taxa, the role it plays in everyday foraging decisions is not well understood. Investigating social learning during foraging could shed light on the emergence of cultural variation in different groups. We used an open diffusion experiment to examine the spread of a novel foraging technique in captive Amazon parrots. Three groups were tested using a two-action foraging box, including experimental groups exposed to demonstrators using different techniques and control birds. We also examined the influence of agonistic and pilfering behaviour on task acquisition. We found evidence of social learning: more experimental birds than control birds interacted with and opened the box. The birds were, however, no more likely to use the demonstrated technique than the non-demonstrated one, making local or stimulus enhancement the most likely mechanism. Exhibiting aggression was positively correlated with box opening, whilst receiving aggression did not reduce motivation to engage with the box, indicating that willingness to defend access to the box was important in task acquisition. Pilfering food and success in opening the box were also positively correlated; however, having food pilfered did not affect victims' motivation to interact with the box. In a group context, pilfering may promote learning of new foraging opportunities. Although previous studies have demonstrated that psittacines are capable of imitation, in this naturalistic set-up there was no evidence that parrots copied the demonstrated opening technique. Foraging behaviour in wild populations of Amazons could therefore be facilitated by low-fidelity social learning mechanisms.</p>},
  author       = {Morales Picard, Alejandra and Hogan, Lauren and Lambert, Megan L and Wilkinson, Anna and Seed, Amanda M and Slocombe, Katie E},
  issn         = {1435-9456},
  keyword      = {Social learning ,Open diffusion,Two-action test,Parrots,Amazona amazonica },
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {285--298},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Animal Cognition},
  title        = {Diffusion of novel foraging behaviour in Amazon parrots through social learning},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10071-016-1049-3},
  volume       = {20},
  year         = {2017},
}