University of Oulu

Lehtonen, T. K., Helanterä, H., Solvi, C., Wong, B. B. M., & Loukola, O. J. (2023). The role of cognition in nesting. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 378(1884), 20220142.

The role of cognition in nesting

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Author: Lehtonen, Topi K.1; Helanterä, Heikki1; Solvi, Cwyn1,2;
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Center for Brain Science and Brain-Inspired Intelligence, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510515, China
3School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne 3800, Victoria, Australia
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Royal Society Publishing, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-11-09


For many animals, nests are essential for reproductive success. Nesting individuals need to carry out a range of potentially challenging tasks, from selecting an appropriate site and choosing suitable materials to constructing the nest and defending it against competitors, parasites and predators. Given the high fitness stakes involved, and the diverse impacts both the abiotic and social environment can have on nesting success, we might expect cognition to facilitate nesting efforts. This should be especially true under variable environmental conditions, including those changing due to anthropogenic impacts. Here, we review, across a wide range of taxa, evidence linking cognition to nesting behaviours, including selection of nesting sites and materials, nest construction, and nest defence. We also discuss how different cognitive abilities may increase an individual’s nesting success. Finally, we highlight how combining experimental and comparative research can uncover the links between cognitive abilities, nesting behaviours and the evolutionary pathways that may have led to the associations between them. In so doing, the review highlights current knowledge gaps and provides suggestions for future research.

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Series: Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological sciences
ISSN: 0962-8436
ISSN-E: 1471-2970
ISSN-L: 0962-8436
Volume: 378
Issue: 1884
Article number: 20220142
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2022.0142
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was supported by the Australian Research Council (grants FT190100014 and DP220100245 to B.B.M.W.), Kone Foundation (grant 202010852 to O.J.L.), Templeton World Charity Foundation (project grant TWCF-2020-0539) and Biodiverse Anthropocenes Research Programme.
Copyright information: © 2023 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.