A four-questions perspective on public information use in sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae)
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Whether learning primarily reflects general processes or species-specific challenges is a long-standing matter of dispute. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis of public information use (PI-use) in sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae). PI-use is a form of social learning by which animals are able to assess the relative quality of resources, here prey patches, by observing the behaviour of others. PI-use was highly specific with only Pungitius and their closest relative Culaea inconstans showing evidence of PI-use. We saw no effects of ontogenetic experience upon PI-use in Pungitius pungitius. Experiments with live demonstrators and animated fish revealed that heightened activity and feeding strikes by foraging conspecifics are important cues in the transmission of PI. Finally, PI-use was the only form of learning in which P. pungitius and another stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus differed. PI-use in sticklebacks is species-specific and may represent an ‘ecological specialization’ for social foraging. Whether this reflects selection on perception, attentional or cognitive processes remains to be determined.
Webster , M M , Chouinard-Thuly , L , Herczeg , G , Kitano , J , Riley , R J , Rogers , S , Shapiro , M D , Shikano , T & Laland , K N 2019 , ' A four-questions perspective on public information use in sticklebacks (Gasterosteidae) ' , Royal Society Open Science , vol. 6 , no. 2 , 181735 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.181735
Royal Society Open Science
Copyright 2019 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
DescriptionThis research was supported by ERC Advanced (EVOCULTURE 232823) and NERC (NE/D010365/1) grants to KNL and grants from the NSF (IOS0744974, DEB1149160), NIH (R01GM115996), and Burroughs Wellcome Fund to MDS.
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