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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
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
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
Noah Snyder-Mackler, Jordan N Kohn, Luis B Barreiro, Zachary P Johnson, Mark E Wilson, Jenny Tung
Strong social relationships confer health and fitness benefits in a number of species, motivating the need to understand the processes through which they arise. In female cercopithecine primates, both kinship and dominance rank are thought to influence rates of affiliative behaviour and social partner preference. Teasing apart the relative importance of these factors has been challenging, however, as female kin often occupy similar positions in the dominance hierarchy. Here, we isolated the specific effects of rank on social relationships in female rhesus macaques by analysing grooming patterns in 18 social groups that did not contain close relatives, and in which dominance ranks were experimentally randomized...
January 1, 2016: Animal Behaviour
Laurie Dizney, M Denise Dearing
Biodiversity often serves to reduce zoonotic pathogens, such that prevalence is lower in communities of greater diversity. This phenomenon is termed the dilution effect, and although it has been reported for several pathogens (e.g. Sin Nombre virus, SNV), the mechanism is largely unknown. We investigated a putative mechanism, by testing the hypothesis that higher biodiversity alters behaviours important in pathogen transmission. Using deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and SNV as our host-pathogen system, and a novel surveillance system, we compared host behaviours between high- and low-diversity communities...
January 1, 2016: Animal Behaviour
Szabolcs Számadó, Dustin J Penn
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 1, 2015: Animal Behaviour
Ornela De Gasperin, Ana Duarte, Rebecca M Kilner
Why is there so much variation within species in the extent to which males contribute to offspring care? Answers to this question commonly focus on intraspecific sources of variation in the relative costs and benefits of supplying paternal investment. With experiments in the laboratory on the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, and its phoretic mite Poecilochirus carabi, we investigated whether interactions with a second species might also account for intraspecific variation in the extent of paternal care, and whether this variation is due to adaptation or constraint...
November 2015: Animal Behaviour
Clare Andrews, Jérémie Viviani, Emily Egan, Thomas Bedford, Ben Brilot, Daniel Nettle, Melissa Bateson
Animals can insure themselves against the risk of starvation associated with unpredictable food availability by storing energy reserves or gathering information about alternative food sources. The former strategy carries costs in terms of mass-dependent predation risk, while the latter trades off against foraging for food; both trade-offs may be influenced by an individual's developmental history. Here, we consider a possible role of early developmental experience in inducing different mass regulation and foraging strategies in European starlings...
November 2015: Animal Behaviour
Alfredo Attisano, Rebecca M Kilner
Parents play a key role in determining the phenotype of their offspring. However, relatively few studies have investigated whether parents can change their offspring's behaviour in a sustained way that persists into adulthood. With experiments on the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides, we investigated how the developmental environment created by parents affects their offspring's wing morphology in adulthood, and the correlated effects on adult flight behaviour. Burying beetles exhibit complex biparental care, but offspring can survive without parental provisioning...
October 1, 2015: Animal Behaviour
L M Aplin, J A Firth, D R Farine, B Voelkl, R A Crates, A Culina, C J Garroway, C A Hinde, L R Kidd, I Psorakis, N D Milligan, R Radersma, B L Verhelst, B C Sheldon
Despite growing interest in animal social networks, surprisingly little is known about whether individuals are consistent in their social network characteristics. Networks are rarely repeatedly sampled; yet an assumption of individual consistency in social behaviour is often made when drawing conclusions about the consequences of social processes and structure. A characterization of such social phenotypes is therefore vital to understanding the significance of social network structure for individual fitness outcomes, and for understanding the evolution and ecology of individual variation in social behaviour more broadly...
October 2015: Animal Behaviour
Tomica D Blocker, Alexander G Ophir
Social recognition is an integral component of behavior that underlies many much larger behavioral suites. For example, monogamous pair bonding is relatively meaningless if an individual cannot recall with whom the bond was with. Prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) are a socially monogamous rodent, well known for their long-term pair bonds between males and females. Although previous work has shown that bonded males reliably spend more time with their pair-mate over an unfamiliar female, recent work has demonstrated that single male prairie voles do not discriminate between females...
October 1, 2015: Animal Behaviour
Daniel Nettle, Clare P Andrews, Pat Monaghan, Ben O Brilot, Thomas Bedford, Robert Gillespie, Melissa Bateson
In birds, there is evidence that adult cognitive traits can both run in families and be affected by early developmental influences. However, different studies use different cognitive tasks, which may not be measuring the same traits, and also focus on different developmental factors. We report results from a study in which we administered multiple cognitive tasks (autoshaping, discrimination learning, reversal learning, progressive ratio schedule, extinction learning and impulsivity) to a cohort of 34 European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, for which several early developmental measures were available...
September 2015: Animal Behaviour
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