University of Oulu

Forsman JT, Kivelä SM, Tolvanen J, Loukola OJ. 2022 Conceptual preferences can be transmitted via selective social information use between competing wild bird species. R. Soc. Open Sci. 9: 220292.

Conceptual preferences can be transmitted via selective social information use between competing wild bird species

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Author: Forsman, Jukka T.1; Kivelä, Sami M.1; Tolvanen, Jere1;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Royal Society, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-11-29


Concept learning is considered a high-level adaptive ability. Thus far, it has been studied in laboratory via asocial trial and error learning. Yet, social information use is common among animals but it remains unknown whether concept learning by observing others occurs. We tested whether pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) form conceptual relationships from the apparent choices of nest-site characteristics (geometric symbol attached to the nest-box) of great tits (Parus major). Each wild flycatcher female (n = 124) observed one tit pair that exhibited an apparent preference for either a large or a small symbol and was then allowed to choose between two nest-boxes with a large and a small symbol, but the symbol shape was different to that on the tit nest. Older flycatcher females were more likely to copy the symbol size preference of tits than yearling flycatcher females when there was a high number of visible eggs or a few partially visible eggs in the tit nest. However, this depended on the phenotype, copying switched to rejection as a function of increasing body size. Possibly the quality of and overlap in resource use with the tits affected flycatchers’ decisions. Hence, our results suggest that conceptual preferences can be horizontally transmitted across coexisting animals, which may increase the performance of individuals that use concept learning abilities in their decision-making.

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Series: Royal Society Open Science
ISSN: 2054-5703
ISSN-E: 2054-5703
ISSN-L: 2054-5703
Volume: 9
Issue: 6
Article number: 220292
DOI: 10.1098/rsos.220292
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was financed by Academy of Finland (grant nos. 122665 and 125720 to J.T.F., 314833 and 319898 to S.M.K. and 309995 to O.J.L.) and Kone Foundation (to J.T.F. and O.J.L.).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 314833
Detailed Information: 314833 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
319898 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
309995 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
122665 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
125720 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.