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Social learning (learning through observation or interaction with other individuals) is widespread in nature and is central to the remarkable success of humanity, yet it remains unclear why copying is profitable and how to copy most effectively. To address these questions, we organized a computer tournament in which entrants submitted strategies specifying(More)
Studies of animal culture have not normally included a consideration of cetaceans. However, with several long-term field studies now maturing, this situation should change. Animal culture is generally studied by either investigating transmission mechanisms experimentally, or observing patterns of behavioural variation in wild populations that cannot be(More)
Research into social learning (learning from others) has expanded significantly in recent years, not least because of productive interactions between theoretical and empirical approaches. This has been coupled with a new emphasis on learning strategies, which places social learning within a cognitive decision-making framework. Understanding when, how and(More)
T he brain of a sperm whale is about 60% larger in absolute mass than that of an elephant. Furthermore, the brains of toothed whales and dolphins are signifi cantly larger than those of any nonhuman primates and are second only to human brains when measured with respect to body size [1]. How and why did such large brains evolve in these modern cetaceans?(More)
Cultural transmission may be a significant source of variation in the behaviour of whales and dolphins, especially as regards their vocal signals. We studied variation in the vocal output of 'codas' by sperm whale social groups. Codas are patterns of clicks used by female sperm whales in social circumstances. The coda repertoires of all known social units(More)
Many species are known to acquire valuable life skills and information from others, but until recently it was widely believed that animals did not actively facilitate learning in others. Teaching was regarded as a uniquely human faculty. However, recent studies suggest that teaching might be more common in animals than previously thought. Teaching is(More)
by side. Conservation measures must thus work to ensure that on balance growth outpaces destruction, and that the natural ability of reefs to recover from disturbance ('resilience') is maintained. To date, marine protected areas have been the focus of most attention. Conspicuous successes include placing about one third of the Great Barrier Reef in no-take(More)
We used network-based diffusion analysis to reveal the cultural spread of a naturally occurring foraging innovation, lobtail feeding, through a population of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) over a period of 27 years. Support for models with a social transmission component was 6 to 23 orders of magnitude greater than for models without. The spatial(More)
In a recent publication in Biological Reviews, Manger (2006) made the controversial claim that the large brains of cetaceans evolved to generate heat during oceanic cooling in the Oligocene epoch and not, as is the currently accepted view, as a basis for an increase in cognitive or information-processing capabilities in response to ecological or social(More)
We explore the evolution of reliance on social and asocial learning using a spatially explicit stochastic model. Our analysis considers the relative merits of four evolved strategies, two pure strategies (asocial and social learning) and two conditional strategies (the "critical social learner," which learns asocially only when copying fails, and the(More)