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

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

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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 atricapillus) 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 foragingtask 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.

Affiliations: 1: University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON, Canada N6A 5B8; or yongseok.an@gmail.com, Email: yan4@uwo.ca; 2: University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond Street, London, ON, Canada N6A 5B8; 3: University of Guelph, 50 Stone Road East, Guelph, ON, Canada N1G 2W1

10.1163/000579510X545829
/content/journals/10.1163/000579510x545829
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/content/journals/10.1163/000579510x545829
2011-01-01
2016-12-08

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