Nine-spined sticklebacks employ a hill-climbing social learning strategy

Kendal, Jeremy R., Rendell, Luke, Pike, Thomas W. and Laland, Kevin N. (2009) Nine-spined sticklebacks employ a hill-climbing social learning strategy. Behavioral Ecology, 20 (2). pp. 238-244. ISSN 1045-2249

Full content URL:

[img] PDF
BehavEcol2009.pdf - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


Theoretical models on the adaptive advantages of social learning lead to the conclusion that copying cannot be indiscriminate and that individuals should adopt evolved behavioral strategies that dictate the circumstances under which they copy others and from whom they learn. Strategies that exhibit hill-climbing properties, that would allow a population of individuals to converge on the fitness-maximizing behavior over repeated learning events, are of particular significance due to their potentially critical role in cumulative cultural evolution. Here, we provide experimental evidence that nine-spined sticklebacks (Pungitius pungitius) use public information adaptively and in accordance with a hill-climbing social learning strategy. Sticklebacks switch patch preferences to exploit a more profitable food patch if the returns to demonstrator fish are greater than their own but are less likely to copy when low-profitability patches are demonstrated. These findings reinforce the argument that public-information use in nine-spined sticklebacks is an adaptive specialization. More generally, the observation of this sophisticated form of learning in a species of fish supports the view that the presence of enhanced social learning may be predicted better by specific sources of selection than by relatedness to humans.

Keywords:Social learning strategy, Evolutionary game theory, Cultural evolution, Nine-spined stickleback
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:4423
Deposited On:14 Apr 2011 10:19

Repository Staff Only: item control page