Age-dependent social learning in a lizard

Danial W A Noble, Richard William Byrne, Martin J Whiting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Evidence of social learning, whereby the actions of an animal facilitate the
acquisition of new information by another, is taxonomically biased towards
mammals, especially primates, and birds. However, social learning need not
be limited to group-living animals because species with less interaction can
still benefit from learning about potential predators, food sources, rivals and
mates. We trained male skinks (Eulamprus quoyii), a mostly solitary lizard
from eastern Australia, in a two-step foraging task. Lizards belonging to
‘young’ and ‘old’ age classes were presented with a novel instrumental task
(displacing a lid) and an association task (reward under blue lid). We did not
find evidence for age-dependent learning of the instrumental task; however,
young males in the presence of a demonstrator learnt the association task
faster than young males without a demonstrator, whereas old males in both
treatments had similar success rates. We present the first evidence of age dependent social learning in a lizard and suggest that the use of social
information for learning may be more widespread than previously believed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0430
Number of pages5
JournalBiology Letters
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2014

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