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SEMINAR: Communication and collective behaviour in corvid societies

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Today's date is Thursday, December 03, 2020
Communication and collective behaviour in corvid societies : Animal Biology Seminar Series Other events...
Corvids, birds of the crow family, have recently emerged as model organisms in the study of animal cognition. Laboratory studies have revealed striking cognitive feats, pointing to convergent cognitive evolution between corvids and other large-brained groups such as primates. However, the cognitive mechanisms corvids use to solve the challenges of their natural environments remain unclear. I will discuss recent work field experiments and observational data to examine mechanisms of communication and collective behaviour in corvids in the wild. Using playback experiments, I show that nestling jackdaws develop the ability to discriminate between conspecific calls prior to fledging. Later in life, the ability to discriminate between conspecifics underpins the coordination of collective responses to threats. Jackdaws communicate not only with their voices, but also with their striking pale blue-grey eyes, which are highly salient against their dark feathers. During the early breeding season, jackdaws that have secured a nest cavity often peer out of the nest entrance, and we have shown experimentally that their salient eyes play an important role in deterring potential competitors from approaching the nest. Finally, I report the result of studies examining the structure of flocks and the decision-making processes underpinning group movements in mixed-species groups of jackdaws and rooks. Together, these results hint at the cognitive sophistication that has garnered corvids so much recent attention, but also highlight the importance of relatively simple mechanisms in driving behaviour.
Speaker(s) Dr Alex Thornton and Dr. Matthew Bell
Location Jennifer Arnold Lecture Theatre (JALT)
Contact Jessica Mountford <[email protected]> : (08) 6488 3590
Start Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:00
End Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:00
Submitted by Jessica Mountford <[email protected]>
Last Updated Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:56
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