Institute Seminar: When, who and what to copy - dynamic learning strategies in wild birds

Institute Seminar by Sonja Wild

  • Datum: 12.07.2022
  • Uhrzeit: 10:30 - 11:30
  • Vortragende(r): Sonja Wild
  • Ort: Hybrid meeting
  • Raum: Seminar room MPI-AB Bücklestrasse + Online
  • Gastgeber: Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior
  • Kontakt:
Institute Seminar: When, who and what to copy - dynamic learning strategies in wild birds
Young individuals of many animal species rely extensively on social learning to acquire new behaviour and information, but the value of social learning decreases as they get more experienced. Therefore, individuals need to be strategic in what, when and who to copy. Previous work on the ontogeny of learning strategies has demonstrated the importance of vertical social learning from parents, particularly in long-lived species with prolonged parental care. Meanwhile, there has been less focus on how learning strategies develop in species in which the transition to independence is more fast-paced. During this seminar, I will present some of our work on the development of social networks and learning strategies in great tits (Parus major) during ontogeny. After leaving their nest, great tit fledglings spend several weeks in their family groups before integrating into local flocks. Based on RFID tracking data, I will show how associations with parents, non-parent adults, siblings and peers change over time, and how these changes in the social network affect the fledglings’ social learning strategies. Behavioural experiments with two-option foraging puzzles showed that early exposure during dependence through parents facilitated learning of the solutions to the puzzle, but the choice of role models was mixed. Furthermore, the importance of social information on choosing between the two options decreased as fledglings got more experienced. Taken together, this research highlights the complex social learning strategies employed by young individuals in a species with short dependence periods and helps to uncover how individual decisions can shape the behavioural diversity expressed on a population level.

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