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Animal Behaviour

Peter Schausberger, Marian Gratzer, Markus A Strodl
The social environment early in life is a key determinant of developmental, physiological and behavioural trajectories across vertebrate and invertebrate animals. One crucial variable is the presence/absence of conspecifics. For animals usually reared in groups, social isolation after birth or hatching can be a highly stressful circumstance, with potentially long-lasting consequences. Here, we assessed the effects of social deprivation (isolation) early in life, that is, absence of conspecifics, versus social enrichment, that is, presence of conspecifics, on developmental time, body size at maturity, mating behaviour and group-living in the plant-inhabiting predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis...
May 2017: Animal Behaviour
Benedict G Hogan, Innes C Cuthill, Nicholas E Scott-Samuel
The formation of groups is a common strategy to avoid predation in animals, and recent research has indicated that there may be interactions between some forms of defensive coloration, notably high-contrast 'dazzle camouflage', and one of the proposed benefits of grouping: the confusion effect. However, research into the benefits of dazzle camouflage has largely used targets moving with constant speed. This simplification may not generalize well to real animal systems, where a number of factors influence both within- and between-individual variation in speed...
January 2017: Animal Behaviour
Tomica D Blocker, Alexander G Ophir
Pair bonds are the cornerstone of a monogamous relationship. When individuals of the same species engage in monogamy and promiscuity (i.e. alternative reproductive tactics) it can be difficult to determine which tactic confers greater fitness, as measures of fitness can be difficult to ascertain. However, in these circumstances, whether animals preferentially establish pair bonds can reveal decisions that presumably reflect the animals' assessment of how to best maximize reproductive success. In nature, the majority of prairie voles, Microtus ochrogaster, establishes pair bonds and engages in social monogamy while a minority of individuals remains single and presumably mates promiscuously...
December 2016: Animal Behaviour
Marianne T E Heberlein, Dennis C Turner, Friederike Range, Zsófia Virányi
Both human and nonhuman primates use imperative pointing to request a desired object from another individual. Gaze alternation often accompanies such pointing gestures, and in species that have no hands this can in itself function as imperative pointing. Dogs have exceptional skills in communicating with humans. The early development of these skills is suggested to have been facilitated by domestication. Adult wolves socialized with humans can use human-provided information to find food in various situations, but it is unclear whether they would use gaze alternation to show their human partner a target location they cannot reach on their own...
December 2016: Animal Behaviour
Alison L Greggor, Jolle W Jolles, Alex Thornton, Nicola S Clayton
Neophobia, or the fear of novelty, may offer benefits to animals by limiting their exposure to unknown danger, but can also impose costs by preventing the exploration of potential resources. The costs and benefits of neophobia may vary throughout the year if predation pressure, resource distribution or conspecific competition changes seasonally. Despite such variation, neophobia levels are often assumed to be temporally and individually stable. Whether or not neophobia expression changes seasonally and fluctuates equally for all individuals is crucial to understanding the drivers, consequences and plasticity of novelty avoidance...
November 2016: Animal Behaviour
Kendra B Sewall, Anna M Young, Timothy F Wright
Learned song is among the best-studied models of animal communication. In oscine songbirds, where learned song is most prevalent, it is used primarily for intrasexual selection and mate attraction. Learning of a different class of vocal signals, known as contact calls, is found in a diverse array of species, where they are used to mediate social interactions among individuals. We argue that call learning provides a taxonomically rich system for studying testable hypotheses for the evolutionary origins of vocal learning...
October 2016: Animal Behaviour
Sagan Friant, Toni E Ziegler, Tony L Goldberg
Infectious disease transmission is a cost of sociality in humans and other animals. Nevertheless, the mechanisms linking social behaviour to infection risk are poorly known. We conducted a field experiment to examine how host intrinsic traits, behaviour and physiology affect infection of nonhuman primates with gastrointestinal parasites. We measured rate to reinfection in a social group of red-capped mangabeys, Cercocebus torquatus, following chemotherapeutic treatment for parasite infections. By measuring behaviour, infection and glucocorticoid levels, we compared the relative effects of space sharing, directional contact and physiological stress on risk of acquiring new infections...
July 2016: Animal Behaviour
Alison L Greggor, Nicola S Clayton, Antony J C Fulford, Alex Thornton
The extent to which animals respond fearfully to novel stimuli may critically influence their ability to survive alongside humans. However, it is unclear whether the fear of novel objects, object neophobia, consistently varies in response to human disturbance. Where variation has been documented, it is unclear whether this variation is due to a change in fear towards specific novel stimuli, or whether it is symptomatic of a general change in fear behaviour. We measured levels of object neophobia in free-flying birds across urban and rural habitats, comparing corvids, a family known for being behaviourally flexible and innovative, with other urban-adapting bird species...
July 2016: Animal Behaviour
Andrius Pašukonis, Katharina Trenkwalder, Max Ringler, Eva Ringler, Rosanna Mangione, Jolanda Steininger, Ian Warrington, Walter Hödl
The ability to associate environmental cues with valuable resources strongly increases the chances of finding them again, and thus memory often guides animal movement. For example, many temperate region amphibians show strong breeding site fidelity and will return to the same areas even after the ponds have been destroyed. In contrast, many tropical amphibians depend on exploitation of small, scattered and fluctuating resources such as ephemeral pools for reproduction. It remains unknown whether tropical amphibians rely on spatial memory for effective exploitation of their reproductive resources...
June 2016: Animal Behaviour
Sarah J Alger, Bret R Larget, Lauren V Riters
Complex vocal signals, such as birdsong, contain acoustic elements that differ in both order and duration. These elements may convey socially relevant meaning, both independently and through their interactions, yet statistical methods that combine order and duration data to extract meaning have not, to our knowledge, been fully developed. Here we design novel semi-Markov methods, Bayesian estimation and classification trees to extract order and duration information from behavioural sequences and apply these methods to songs produced by male European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, in two social contexts in which the function of song differs: a spring (breeding) and autumn (nonbreeding) context...
June 2016: Animal Behaviour
Stephan A Reber, Markus Boeckle, Georgine Szipl, Judith Janisch, Thomas Bugnyar, W Tecumseh Fitch
Human language involves combining items into meaningful, syntactically structured wholes. The evolutionary origin of syntactic abilities has been investigated by testing pattern perception capacities in nonhuman animals. New World primates can respond spontaneously to structural changes in acoustic sequences and songbirds can learn to discriminate between various patterns in operant tasks. However, there is no conclusive evidence that songbirds respond spontaneously to structural changes in patterns without reinforcement or training...
June 2016: Animal Behaviour
Eva Ringler, Andrius Pašukonis, Max Ringler, Ludwig Huber
The ability to differentiate between one's own and foreign offspring ensures the exclusive allocation of costly parental care to only related progeny. The selective pressure to evolve offspring discrimination strategies is largely shaped by the likelihood and costs of offspring confusion. We hypothesize that males and females with different reproductive and spatial behaviours face different risks of confusing their own with others' offspring, and this should favour differential offspring discrimination strategies in the two sexes...
April 2016: Animal Behaviour
Jayden O van Horik, Joah R Madden
Rates of innovative foraging behaviours and success on problem-solving tasks are often used to assay differences in cognition, both within and across species. Yet the cognitive features of some problem-solving tasks can be unclear. As such, explanations that attribute cognitive mechanisms to individual variation in problem-solving performance have revealed conflicting results. We investigated individual consistency in problem-solving performances in captive-reared pheasant chicks, Phasianus colchicus, and addressed whether success depends on cognitive processes, such as trial-and-error associative learning, or whether performances may be driven solely via noncognitive motivational mechanisms, revealed through subjects' willingness to approach, engage with and persist in their interactions with an apparatus, or via physiological traits such as body condition...
April 2016: Animal Behaviour
Chandreyee Mitra, Edgar Reynoso, Goggy Davidowitz, Daniel Papaj
In many Lepidoptera species usually only males puddle for sodium. Two explanations have been offered for this: (1) neuromuscular activity: males need increased sodium for flight because they are more active flyers than females; and (2) direct benefits: sodium is a type of direct benefit provided by males to females via ejaculate during mating. Surprisingly, there is little direct experimental evidence for either of these. In this study, we examined both explanations using the pipevine swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor L...
April 1, 2016: Animal Behaviour
Aaryn C Mustoe, April M Harnisch, Benjamin Hochfelder, Jon Cavanaugh, Jeffrey A French
Cooperation among individuals depends, in large part, on a sense of fairness. Many cooperating non-human primates (NHPs) show inequity aversion, (i.e., negative responses to unequal outcomes), and these responses toward inequity likely evolved as a means to preserve the advantages of cooperative relationships. However, marmosets (Callithrix spp.) tend to show little or no inequity aversion, despite the high occurrence of prosociality and cooperative-breeding in callitrichid monkeys. Oxytocin [OXT] has been implicated in a wide variety of social processes, but little is known about whether OXT modulates inequity aversion toward others...
April 1, 2016: Animal Behaviour
Ruth I Wood, Jessica Y Kim, Grace R Li
Humans and animals show cooperative behaviour, but our understanding of cooperation among unrelated laboratory animals is limited. A classic test of cooperation is the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma (IPD) game, where two players receive varying payoffs for cooperation or defection in repeated trials. To determine whether unrelated rats cooperate in the IPD, we tested pairs of rats making operant responses to earn food reward in 25 trials/day. The operant chamber was bisected by a metal screen with a retractable lever and pellet dispenser on each side...
April 1, 2016: Animal Behaviour
Laura R Stein, Rebecca M Trapp, Alison M Bell
Although one of the hallmarks of personality traits is their consistency over time, we might expect personality traits to change during life history shifts. Becoming a parent is a major life history event, when individuals undergo dramatic behavioural and physiological changes. Here we employ a longitudinal experiment to ask whether personality changes in response to the experience of parenting in male threespine sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Life history theory predicts that males should be less risk averse after successfully parenting, and the neuroendocrinology of parenting suggests that parenting could reorganize the hormonal landscape and behaviour of fathers...
February 1, 2016: Animal Behaviour
Daizaburo Shizuka, Damien R Farine
The existence of discrete social clusters, or 'communities', is a common feature of social networks in human and nonhuman animals. The level of such community structure in networks is typically measured using an index of modularity, Q. While modularity quantifies the degree to which individuals associate within versus between social communities and provides a useful measure of structure in the social network, it assumes that the network has been well sampled. However, animal social network data is typically subject to sampling errors...
February 2016: Animal Behaviour
Jolle Wolter Jolles, Benjamin Aaron Taylor, Andrea Manica
Animal personalities are ubiquitous across the animal kingdom and have been shown both to influence individual behaviour in the social context and to be affected by it. However, little attention has been paid to possible carryover effects of social conditions on personality expression, especially when individuals are alone. Here we investigated how the recent social context affected the boldness and repeatability of three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus, during individual assays. We housed fish either solitarily, solitarily part of the time or socially in groups of four, and subjected them twice to a risk-taking task...
February 2016: Animal Behaviour
Stephan Wolf, Lars Chittka
The learning capacities of males and females may differ with sex-specific behavioural requirements. Bumblebees provide a useful model system to explore how different lifestyles are reflected in learning abilities, because their (female but sterile) workers and males engage in fundamentally different behaviour routines. Bumblebee males, like workers, embark on active flower foraging but in contrast to workers they have to trade off their feeding with mate search, potentially affecting their abilities to learn and utilize floral cues efficiently during foraging...
January 2016: Animal Behaviour
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