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Behavioral constraints and the evolution of faithful social learning
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution.
Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology ,Leipzig, Germany.
2012 (English)In: Current Zoology, ISSN 1674-5507, Vol. 58, no 2, 307-318 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Behavioral “traditions”, i.e. behavioral patterns that are acquired with the aid of social learning and that are relativelystable in a group, have been observed in several species. Recently, however, it has been questioned whether non-human sociallearning is faithful enough to stabilize those patterns. The observed stability could be interpreted as a result of various constraintsthat limit the number of possible alternative behaviors, rather than of the fidelity of transmission mechanisms. Those constraints canbe roughly described as “internal”, such as mechanical (bodily) properties or cognitive limitations and predispositions, and “external”,such as ecological availability or pressures. Here we present an evolutionary individual-based model that explores the relationshipsbetween the evolution of faithful social learning and behavioral constraints, represented both by the size of the behavioralrepertoire and by the “shape” of the search space of a given task. We show that the evolution of high-fidelity transmissionmechanisms, when associated with costs (e.g. cognitive, biomechanical, energetic, etc.), is only likely if the potential behavioralrepertoire of a species is large and if the search space does not provide information that can be exploited by individual learning.Moreover we show how stable behavioral patterns (“traditions”) can be achieved at the population level as an outcome of bothhigh-fidelity and low-fidelity transmission mechanisms, given that the latter are coupled with a small behavioral repertoire or with asearch space that provide substantial feedback. Finally, by introducing the possibility of environmental change, we show that intermediaterates of change favor the evolution of faithful social learning

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 58, no 2, 307-318 p.
Keyword [en]
Animal social learning, Cultural evolution, Cultural transmission, Copying fidelity, Individual based modeling
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-75300OAI: diva2:515621
Available from: 2012-04-13 Created: 2012-04-13 Last updated: 2012-12-12Bibliographically approved

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