Two papers in one week: how birds learn (and why it matters!)

Week 51 turned out to be a big week for our group: two papers out to finish the year! 

The first paper from Victoria Franks' PhD was accepted by Behavioural Processes: "Older and wiser? Age differences in foraging and learning by an endangered passerine." This was the culmination of hard work in the field and behind a computer, to understand what and how hihi juveniles learn.  The study forms an important part of Vix's thesis because it reminds us that adults and juveniles do not necessarily learn about food in the same way - and it dispels any rumours that hihi can't learn! 

 A male hihi learns to associate the while circle with a food reward. From  Franks & Thorogood  Behavioural Processes  2017 .

A male hihi learns to associate the while circle with a food reward. From Franks & Thorogood Behavioural Processes 2017.

Secondly, we had a big paper come out from our work on the co-evolutionary consequences of  social interactions among predators in Nature Ecology & Evolution: "Social transmission of avoidance among predators facilitates the spread of novel prey".  This was the experiment that started our core research project, but it needed some nice modelling by Hanna Kokko to finish it off.  There's more in a "Behind the Paper" blog post on Nature Ecology & Evolution Community, and Science News produced a fantastic video about it:

Finally, Liisa Hamalainen and her assistant Marianne Teichmann have now finished a gruelling set of experiments in Konnevesi continuing this research project.  The take home message: Blue tits never do what you expect them to!