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Animal Behaviour

Inga C Christiansen, Peter Schausberger
Animals are commonly exposed to multiple environmental stimuli, but whether, and under which circumstances, they can attend to multiple stimuli in multitask learning challenges is elusive. Here, we assessed whether simultaneously occurring chemosensory stimuli interfere with each other in a dual-task learning challenge. We exposed predatory mites Neoseiulus californicus early in life to either only conspecifics (kin) or simultaneously conspecifics (kin) and food (thrips or pollen), to determine whether presence of food interferes with social familiarization and, vice versa, whether presence of conspecifics interferes with learning the cues of thrips...
November 2017: Animal Behaviour
Maxcy P Nolan, Keith S Delaplane
Parasite dispersal theory draws heavily upon epidemiological SIR models in which host status (susceptible (S), infected (I), or recovered (R)) is used to study parasite dispersal evolution. In contrast to these extrinsically host-centric drivers, in this study we focus on an intrinsic driver, the parasite's reproductive value (predicted future offspring) as a regulator of the extent to which the individual will engage in risky dispersal behaviour. As a model system we use the honeybee Apis mellifera and its ectoparasite, the mite Varroa destructor...
October 2017: Animal Behaviour
Oliver M Beckers, Teiya Kijimoto, Armin P Moczek
Despite sharing nearly the same genome, individuals within the same species can vary drastically in both morphology and behaviour as a function of developmental stage, sex or developmental plasticity. Thus, regulatory processes must exist that enable the stage-, sex- or environment-specific expression of traits and their integration during ontogeny, yet exactly how trait complexes are co-regulated and integrated is poorly understood. In this study, we explore the developmental genetic basis of the regulation and integration of environment-dependent sexual dimorphism in behaviour and morphology in the horn-polyphenic dung beetle Onthophagus taurus through the experimental manipulation of the transcription factor doublesex (dsx)...
October 2017: Animal Behaviour
Alexandra G Rosati, Laurie R Santos
Complex social life is thought to be a major driver of complex cognition in primates, but few studies have directly tested the relationship between a given primate species' social system and their social cognitive skills. We experimentally compared life span patterns of a foundational social cognitive skill (following another's gaze) in tolerant Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanus, and despotic rhesus macaques, Macaca mulatta. Semi-free-ranging monkeys (N = 80 individuals from each species) followed gaze more in test trials where an actor looked up compared to control trials...
August 2017: 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
Gillian L Vale, Sarah J Davis, Erica van de Waal, Steven J Schapiro, Susan P Lambeth, Andrew Whiten
Conformity to the behavioural preferences of others can have powerful effects on intragroup behavioural homogeneity in humans, but evidence in animals remains minimal. In this study, we took advantage of circumstances in which individuals or pairs of captive chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, were 'migrated' between groups, to investigate whether immigrants would conform to a new dietary population preference experienced in the group they entered, an effect suggested by recent fieldwork. Such 'migratory-minority' chimpanzees were trained to avoid one of two differently coloured foods made unpalatable, before 'migrating' to, and then observing, a 'local-majority' group consume a different food colour...
February 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
Rohan M Brooker, William E Feeney, James R White, Rachel P Manassa, Jacob L Johansen, Danielle L Dixson
The impacts of human activities on the natural world are becoming increasingly apparent, with rapid development and exploitation occurring at the expense of habitat quality and biodiversity. Declines are especially concerning in the oceans, which hold intrinsic value due to their biological uniqueness as well as their substantial sociological and economic importance. Here, we review the literature and investigate whether incorporation of knowledge from the fields of animal behaviour and behavioural ecology may improve the effectiveness of conservation initiatives in marine systems...
October 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
Elizabeth M A Kern, Detric Robinson, Erika Gass, John Godwin, R Brian Langerhans
Evolutionary change in one trait can elicit evolutionary changes in other traits due to genetic correlations. This constrains the independent evolution of traits and can lead to unpredicted ecological and evolutionary outcomes. Animals might frequently exhibit genetic associations among behavioural and morphological-physiological traits, because the physiological mechanisms behind animal personality can have broad multitrait effects and because many selective agents influence the evolution of multiple types of traits...
July 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
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