Strong between-site variation in New Caledonian crows' use of hook-tool-making materials
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Functional tool use requires the selection of appropriate raw materials. New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides are known for their extraordinary tool-making behaviour, including the crafting of hooked stick tools from branched vegetation. We describe a surprisingly strong between-site difference in the plant materials used by wild crows to manufacture these tools: crows at one study site use branches of the non-native shrub Desmanthus virgatus, whereas only approximately 7 km away, birds apparently ignore this material in favour of the terminal twigs of an as-yet-unidentified tree species. Although it is likely that differences in local plant communities drive this striking pattern, it remains to be determined how and why crows develop such strong site-specific preferences for certain raw materials.
St Clair , J , Klump , B C , van der Wal , J E M , Sugasawa , S & Rutz , C 2016 , ' Strong between-site variation in New Caledonian crows' use of hook-tool-making materials ' Biological Journal of the Linnean Society , vol 118 , no. 2 , pp. 226-232 . DOI: 10.1111/bij.12757
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society
© 2016 The Authors. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2016, This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The study was funded through a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship (grants BB/G023913/1 and BB/G023913/2 to CR) and doctoral studentships from the BBSRC (BK), JASSO (SS), and the School of Biology, University of St Andrews (JvdW).
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