Competitive advantage of rare behaviours induces adaptive diversity rather than social conformity in skill learning: ADAPTIVE DIVERSITY in SKILL LEARNING

Naama Aljadeff, Luc Alain Giraldeau, Arnon Lotem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent studies have emphasized the role of social learning and cultural transmission in promoting conformity and uniformity in animal groups, but little attention has been given to the role of negative frequency-dependent learning in impeding conformity and promoting diversity instead. Here, we show experimentally that under competitive conditions that are common in nature, social foragers (although capable of social learning) are likely to develop diversity in foraging specialization rather than uniformity. Naive house sparrows that were introduced into groups of foraging specialists did not conform to the behaviour of the specialists, but rather learned to use the alternative food-related cues, thus forming groups of complementary specialists. We further show that individuals in such groups may forage more effectively in diverse environments. Our results suggest that when the benefit from socially acquired skills diminishes through competition in a negative frequency-dependent manner, animal societies will become behaviourally diverse rather than uniform.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20201259
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume287
Issue number1933
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • competition
  • conformity
  • negative-frequency learning
  • social foraging
  • social learning

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