Effects of group size on exploration in ravens (Corvus corax)

M Stöwe, Thomas Bugnyar, B Heinrich, K Kotrschal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Neophobia may constrain explorative behaviour, learning and innovation, while social context may facilitate approach to novel objects and acceptance of novel food. We examined the effects of neophobia on the exploration of novel objects in relation to social context in ravens (Corvus corax). Ravens are suitable subjects for studying effects of social context, as they are highly neophobic scavengers that recruit conspecifics to food. We tested two groups of six and 11 hand-raised birds in three conditions: single-bird, in dyadic combinations and sibling subgroups of three to six birds. Contrary to expectation, individuals of both groups were quicker to approach novel objects when tested alone than when tested with conspecifics. However, they spent more time close to and manipulating the novel objects in the social conditions (dyadic and group) than when being alone. We discuss the possibility that the higher latencies of dyads and groups to approach novel objects may reflect a 'negotiation' process in a 'war of attrition' between the individuals over risk-taking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1079-1088
Number of pages10
JournalEthology
Volume112
Issue number112
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006

Keywords

  • COMMON RAVENS
  • SOCIAL FACILITATION
  • TAENIOPYGIA-GUTTATA
  • FORAGING SUCCESS
  • ZEBRA FINCHES
  • FERAL PIGEONS
  • LAYING HENS
  • FOOD
  • NEOPHOBIA
  • BEHAVIOR

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