Social rank, neophobia and observational learning in black-capped chickadees

Yong Seok An*, Buddhamas Kriengwatana, Amy E. Newman, Elizabeth A. MacDougall-Shackleton, Scott A. MacDougall-Shackleton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Behavioural syndromes are consistent patterns in behavioural tendencies across varying situations in individual animals. Although studies of behavioural syndromes are becoming more common, few draw connections to social dominance. Black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillas) flock in winter, and dominance hierarchies play an important role in governing social behaviour within these flocks. Dominants and subordinates may also pursue different foraging strategies and differ in risk-taking, such as consuming novel food. In this study we examined whether social rank was related to neophobia and observational learning in chickadees. We measured individual reactions to novelty and individual differences in foraging-task learning ability. Latencies to approach a variety of novel stimuli were consistent within individuals. Social rank was related to individual reactions to novelty but not to observational learning ability. Lower-ranking individuals were less neophobic, which was consistent with the pattern of their dominance hierarchy in the wild where dominants control access to preferred resources and restrict subordinates to forage in riskier novel environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
JournalBehaviour
Volume148
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • behavioural syndromes
  • dominance hierarchy
  • neophobia
  • observational learning
  • REPRODUCTIVE SUCCESS
  • ANTIPREDATOR BEHAVIOR
  • CULTURAL TRANSMISSION
  • WINTER FLOCKS
  • DOMINANCE
  • SEX
  • BOLDNESS
  • ANIMALS
  • PIGEONS
  • NOVELTY

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