Members of the Animal Cognition Research Group have a broad interest in animal behaviour, with a particular focus on how learning and cognitive abilities allow animals to solve problems they face in the wild (e.g. foraging, vocal recognition of conspecifics, how to know what nest to build). We investigate the causes and consequences of variation in these abilities.
Nest-building is a key reproductive event that is nearly ubiquitous amongst birds but varies in (1) who builds the nets, (2) when the nest is built, (3) what material go into the nest, (4) what form the nest takes, to name but a few variables. We ask questions about the role of learning (including social learning) in nest-building behaviour in birds.
Animal of all kinds seem to vary consistently from one-another in their behaviours (called animal personality) but also in how they acquire, process, store, and recall information (cognition). We ask questions about the causes and consequences of among-individual variation in cognitive abilities.
Social vs asocial learning
Why do some animals seem to rely more on information acquired through interaction with, and observation of others (social learning) while other animals acquire their information on their own (asocial learning)? We ask questions about when animals seem to prioritize one information sources over another.