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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)
We use mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) (400 bp), six microsatellites and 36 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), 20 of which were linked, to investigate population structure of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the eastern and central North Pacific. SNP markers, reproducible across technologies and laboratories, are ideal for long-term studies of(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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Humans are characterized by an extreme dependence on culturally transmitted information. Such dependence requires the complex integration of social and asocial information to generate effective learning and decision making. Recent formal theory predicts that natural selection should favour adaptive learning strategies, but relevant empirical work is scarce(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)