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Is behavioral flexibility related to foraging and social behavior in a rapidly expanding species?use asterix (*) to get italics
Corina Logan, Luisa Bergeron, Carolyn Rowney, Kelsey McCune, Dieter LukasPlease use the format "First name initials family name" as in "Marie S. Curie, Niels H. D. Bohr, Albert Einstein, John R. R. Tolkien, Donna T. Strickland"
This is one of the first studies planned for our long-term research on the role of behavioral flexibility in rapid geographic range expansions. Project background: Behavioral flexibility, the ability to change behavior when circumstances change based on learning from previous experience (Mikhalevich, Powell, and Logan (2017)), is thought to play an important role in a species’ ability to successfully adapt to new environments and expand its geographic range (e.g., (Lefebvre et al. 1997), (Griffin and Guez 2014), (Chow, Lea, and Leaver 2016), (Sol and Lefebvre 2000), (Sol, Timmermans, and Lefebvre 2002), (Sol et al. 2005)). However, behavioral flexibility is rarely directly tested at the individual level, thus limiting our ability to determine how it relates to other traits (e.g., behavior, invasion success, diet generalism, foraging techniques, foraging innovations, mortality, brain size), which limits the power of predictions about a species’ ability to adapt behavior to new environments. We use great-tailed grackles (a bird species) as a model to investigate this question because they have rapidly expanded their range into North America over the past 140 years (i.e., they increased their nesting range by over 5500% between 1880 and 2000 (Wehtje 2003), (Peer 2011)) (Fig. 1). Foraging behavior is considered central to the rapid geographic range expansion of this species and it is thought that they have been so successful by following human urban and agricultural corridors ((Wehtje 2003), (Peer 2011)). Therefore, as humans continue to modify landscapes, this increases the amount of suitable grackle habitat. We expect this species to be behaviorally flexible because they are fast at reversal learning (C. J. Logan (2016)), they often encounter human-made “puzzle boxes” in the wild as they attempt to open packaging to access food when digging through garbage cans and eating at outdoor cafes, and they may track resources across time and space. Results will allow us to determine whether, as predicted by hypotheses and cross-species correlational data, in this expanding species, individual-level variation in flexibility is linked with diet breadth, foraging proficiency, social interactions, habitat use, and movement into new geographic areas. This investigation: In this piece of the long-term project, we will assess whether individual performance in experiments that assess behavioral flexibility relates to individual variation in ecological and social behavior in the natural environment. In particular, we aim to determine whether the more behaviorally flexible (measured by reversal learning and solution switching on a multi-access box in a separate preregistration) grackles have more flexible foraging behavior (eat a larger number of different foods, use a wider variety of foraging techniques), are more flexible in their habitat use (are found in more diverse habitat types, disperse farther from their natal area), and are more flexible in their social relationships (have more or stronger social bonds particularly with less related individuals). We will be able to compare the grackle’s ability to adapt behavior according to social context with data from other species, as well as determine whether it is linked with measures of flexibility in asocial contexts.
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Behavioral flexibility, innovation, foraging, habitat use, social behavior, relatedness, comparative cognition, avian cognition
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Behaviour & Ethology, Preregistrations, Zoology
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2018-10-23 00:47:03
Julia Astegiano