Sex and pairing status impact how zebra finches use social information in foraging

Christopher N. Templeton, Katharine Philp, Lauren M. Guillette, Kevin N. Laland, Sarah Benson-Amram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Many factors, including the demonstrator’s sex, status, and familiarity, shape the nature and magnitude of social learning. Given the important role of pair bonds in socially-monogamous animals, we predicted that these intimate relationships would promote the use of social information, and tested this hypothesis in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). Observer birds witnessed either their mate or another familiar, opposite-sex bird eat from one, but not a second novel food source, before being allowed to feed from both food sources themselves. Birds used social information to make foraging decisions, but not all individuals used this information in the same way. While most individuals copied the foraging choice of the demonstrator as predicted, paired males did not, instead avoiding the feeder demonstrated by their mate. Our findings reveal that sex and pairing status interact to influence the use of social information and suggest that paired males might use social information to avoid competing with their mate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-42
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioural Processes
Early online date21 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Monogamy
  • Pair-bond
  • Social information
  • Social learning


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