. Scientific Frontline: Behavioral Science
Showing posts with label Behavioral Science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Behavioral Science. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Study shows how machine learning can identify social grooming behavior from acceleration signals in wild baboons

Photo Credit: Charl Durand

Scientists from Swansea University and the University of Cape Town have tracked social grooming behavior in wild baboons using collar-mounted accelerometers.

The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, is the first to successfully calculate grooming budgets using this method, which opens a whole avenue of future research directions.

Using collars containing accelerometers built at Swansea University, the team recorded the activities of baboons in Cape Town, South Africa, identifying and quantifying general activities such as resting, walking, foraging and running, and also the giving and receiving of grooming.

A supervised machine learning algorithm was trained on acceleration data matched to baboon video recordings and successfully recognized the giving and receiving grooming with high overall accuracy.

The team then applied their machine learning model to acceleration data collected from 12 baboons to quantify grooming and other behaviors continuously throughout the day and night-time.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Wild animals stop the spread of socially transmitted misinformation

For wild animals, false alarms are the most widespread form of misinformation.
Photo Credit: Kaylee Rose Fahimipour

Despite the benefits of learning about the world through social ties, social connections also provide a conduit for misinformation that impedes effective decision-making.

For wild animals, false alarms are the most widespread form of misinformation. For example, when an individual animal in a group makes the decision to produce an alarm signal or initiate an escape maneuver in the absence of a real threat. This initial action produces sensory stimuli that can be perceived by others in the group as an indication of danger, resulting in a cascade of erroneous escape responses that can spread contagiously.

Behavioral and neurophysiological studies suggest that relatively simple behavioral strategies control decision-making in many of these settings. Yet, it is unknown whether these strategies somehow account for the possibility of exposure to misinformation.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Social bird species may be less competitive

Northern mockingbird
Photo Credit: Brian E. Kushner/Cornell Lab of Ornithology 

Using Cornell Lab of Ornithology data, a new study finds that birds that have evolved to be more social are less likely to kick other birds off a bird feeder or a perch.

Spend any time watching backyard bird feeders and it becomes clear that some species are more “dominant” than others. They evict other birds from a feeder or perch, usually based on their body size. Scientists wanted to learn if birds that have evolved to be more social have also evolved to be less aggressive.

Their findings published March 1 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, “The Effect of Sociality on Competitive Interactions Among Birds.”

“We found that species’ sociality was inversely related to dominance,” said lead author Ilias Berberi from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. “Using data collected from thousands of birdwatching volunteers, we measured the sociality of different species based on their typical group size when seen at bird feeders. Though some species are often found in groups, other tend to be loners. When we examined their dominance interactions, we found that more social species are weaker competitors. Overall, the more social bird species are less likely to evict competing species from the feeders.”

Flamingos form cliques with like-minded pals

The partner of one Caribbean flamingo helps it out in an argument with another pair.
Photo Credit Paul Rose

Flamingos form cliques of like-minded individuals within their flocks, new research shows.

Scientists analyzed the personalities and social behavior of Caribbean and Chilean flamingos.

Birds of both species tended to spend time with others whose personality was similar to their own.  

The study, by the University of Exeter and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), reveals the complex nature of flamingo societies and could help in the management of captive flocks.

“Our previous research has shown that individual flamingos have particular ‘friends’ within the flock,” said Dr Paul Rose, from WWT and Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behavior.

“In this study, we wanted to find out whether individual character traits explain why these friendships form.

“The answer is yes – birds of a feather flock together.

Mysterious new behavior seen in whales may be recorded in ancient manuscripts

Flinders University Diagram of humpback engaged in trap feeding; with a jaw either flush with the waterline, or raised to a similar height to the rostrum.
Image Credit: John McCarthy 

In 2011, scientists recorded a previously unknown feeding strategy in whales around the world. Now, researchers in Australia think they may have found evidence of this behavior being described in ancient accounts of sea creatures, recorded more than 2,000 years ago.

They believe that misunderstandings of these descriptions contributed to myths about medieval sea monsters.

Whales are known to lunge at their prey when feeding, but recently whales have been spotted at the surface of the water with their jaws open at right angles, waiting for shoals of fish to swim into their mouths. 

This strategy seems to work for the whales because the fish think they have found a place to shelter from predators, not realizing they are swimming into danger.

It’s not known why this strategy has only recently been identified, but scientists speculate that it’s a result of changing environmental conditions - or that whales are being more closely monitored than ever before by drones and other modern technologies.

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