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The Spread of Food Producing Techniques in a Captive Flock of Jackdaws

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The spread of techniques to get peeled oats from a food dispenser was observed in a captive flock of 28 jackdaws (Corvus monedula) in two replicates. It was hypothesized that the quality of the social relationship between two jackdaws could affect the probability of social learning within that dyad. Therefore technique acquisition of socially bonded dyads (pairs) and socially indifferent dyads (non-pairs) was compared. The results can not falsify the hypothesis of individual learning regardless of the partner's knowledge about a successful technique. Pair members did not learn faster from each other than members of non-pair dyads. Pair members did not preferentially acquire the same technique. There was no indication that the rate of technique acquisition within the flock increased with the number of established technicians. Qualitative observations support the explanation of individual trial-and-error learning.

Affiliations: 1: Ethologie und Wildforschung, Zoologisches Institut, Universität Zürich-Irchel, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland


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