University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series > Experimental and comparative studies of innovation in birds

Experimental and comparative studies of innovation in birds

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Corina Logan <cl417.

Taxonomic differences in the rate at which birds and primates produce new behaviours (innovations) offer a useful tool to test predictions in cognition, ecology, evolution and neuroscience. Comparative studies of innovation suggest that it is part of general intelligence, that it might help introduced animals colonize new zones and that it is associated with evolutionary diversification and habitat generalism, as well as the size of pallial areas in the brain. Experimental studies of innovation are much difficult than are comparative ones, because, by definition, innovation is rare and each one happens once. We have used two proxies, ‘dunking’, a food modification behaviour we can experimentally elicit in the field in Carib grackles, and solving of a novel hidden food problem. Dunking varies with social and environmental costs and benefits, while novel problem solving can tell us about the mechanisms of innovation and test for natural and sexual selection correlates of cognition.

This talk is part of the Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series series.

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