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Scientific Publications

Behavioral and Cognitive Ecologist

Publications: Publications

Ethology 2021

Does the presence of a conspecific increase or decrease fear? Neophobia and habituation in zebra finches

Question: Do individuals fear novelty more when they are with others or when they are alone? 

Hypothesis: Individuals will be less afraid in the presence of others. 

Methods:  We measured the time it took individual zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to feed in the presence and absence of a new object. 

Results: Individuals are initially more fearful in a social setting but quickly habituate to the new object. 

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 2020

The impact of learning opportunities on
the development of learning and
decision-making: an experiment with
passerine birds.

Question: Does experience make you smarter? 

Hypothesis: Experience (the formation of cognitive associations during your lifetime) can lead to better learning. 

Methods: We exposed young zebra finches (Taenopygia guttata) to one of three experimental conditions, i.e. an environment where (i) color cues reliably predicted the presence of food (associative learning), (ii) a combination of two-color cues reliably predicted the presence of food (conditional learning), or (iii) color cues were non-informative (control).

Results: The rate of learning varies depending on the amount of information exposed to during development. 

Ethology 2020

Is exploration a metric for information gathering? Attraction to novelty and plasticity in black-capped chickadees

Question: What is the relationship between exploratory personality in animals and information gathering? 

Hypothesis: Individuals that move through their environment quicker are actively gathering information about their environment. 

Methods:  We used  wild‐caught black‐capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) to measure an individual's activity in a new environment and compared it to their attraction to novelty. 

Results:  Exploratory personality is a measure of information gathering.

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