Tag Archives: Behaviour (Ethology)

First validated canine behavioral genetics, findings of nine fear, aggression traits in dogs

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the United States. And while much is understood about the biochemistry of anxiety, little is known about the genetic variation associated with it. Recently published in BMC Genetics, a study led by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital reports that genetic predisposition to aggression toward […]

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How climate change will hurt humanity’s closest cousins

The consequences of climate change are an increasing concern for humans around the world. How will we cope with rising sea levels and climbing temperatures? But it’s not just humans who will be affected by these worldwide shifts — it’s our closest cousins, too: monkeys, apes and lemurs. A new Concordia study published in the […]

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Across the animal kingdom there is a strong trend for females to be more caring parents

Using mathematical models, the researchers found that if the only initial difference between the sexes is the size of the sex cells they make (sperm by males and eggs by females), evolution does not favor females becoming more attentive parents. “Although an egg is a much larger parental investment than a tiny sperm, there is […]

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Burnout is caused by mismatch between unconscious needs and job demands

New research shows that burnout is caused by a mismatch between a person’s unconscious needs and the opportunities and demands at the workplace. These results have implications for the prevention of jobburnout. Imagine an accountant who is outgoing and seeks closeness in her social relationships, but whose job offers little scope for contact with colleagues […]

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Human ‘super predator’ more terrifying than bears, wolves and Human ‘super predator’ more terrifying than bears, wolves and dogs

Bears, wolves and other large carnivores are frightening beasts but the fear they inspire in their prey pales in comparison to that caused by the human ‘super predator.’ A new study by Western University demonstrates that smaller carnivores, like European badgers, that may be prey to large carnivores, actually perceive humans as far more frightening. […]

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Songbirds’ epic migrations connected to a small cluster of genes

Scientists from the University of British Columbia have shown that there is a genetic basis to the migratory routes flown by songbirds, and have narrowed in on a relatively small cluster of genes that may govern the behaviour. “It’s amazing that the routes and timing of such complex behaviour could be genetically determined and associated […]

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* Can you teach koalas new tricks?

In a paper titled Using complementary remote detection methods for retrofitted eco-passages: a case study for monitoring individual koalas in south-east Queensland published by the CSIRO on Tuesday (July 26), the Environmental Futures Research Institute team verified 130 crossings by koalas involving a retrofitted structure or a road surface over a 30-month period. Professor Darryl […]

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Scavenger crows provide public service, research shows

Crows are performing a useful function and keeping our environment free from rotting carcasses, research carried out at the University of Exeter in Cornwall has discovered. Using motion activated cameras in and around Falmouth and the University’s Penryn Campus, Cornwall, ecologists observed what happened to experimental rat carcasses which they placed under view. The researchers […]

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Ravens learn best from their affiliates

Transmission of information from one individual to another forms the basis of long-term traditions and culture, and is critical in adjusting to changing environmental conditions. Animals frequently observe each other to learn about food, predators and their social environment. The study fills an important gap in our understanding of how different types of social connections […]

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* Black bear links real objects to computer images

American black bears may be able to recognize things they know in real life, such as pieces of food or humans, when looking at a photograph of the same thing. This is one of the findings of a study led by Zoe Johnson-Ulrich and Jennifer Vonk of Oakland University in the US, which involved a […]

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What free will looks like in the brain

Johns Hopkins University researchers are the first to glimpse the human brain making a purely voluntary decision to act. Unlike most brain studies where scientists watch as people respond to cues or commands, Johns Hopkins researchers found a way to observe people’s brain activity as they made choices entirely on their own. The findings, which […]

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* Newborn ducklings can acquire notions of ‘same’ and ‘different’

Scientists from the University of Oxford have shown that newly hatched ducklings can readily acquire the concepts of ‘same’ and ‘different’ — an ability previously known only in highly intelligent animals such as apes, crows and parrots. Ducklings and other young animals normally learn to identify and follow their mother through a type of learning […]

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Overeating in obese mice linked to altered brain responses to food cues

Obese mice are much more likely than lean mice to overeat in the presence of environmental cues, a behavior that could be related to changes in the brain, finds a new study by a Michigan State University neuroscientist. The study is to be presented this week at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, […]

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Thinking ‘I can do better’ really can improve performance, study finds

Telling yourself I can do better, can really make you do better at a given task, a study published in Frontiers in Psychology has found. Over 44,000 people took part in an experiment to discover what motivational techniques really worked. In conjunction with BBC Lab UK, Professor Andrew Lane and his colleagues tested which physiological […]

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‘Big mama’ bonobos help younger females stand up for themselves

Female bonobo coalitions more easily defeat aggressive males. Bullying happens in the primate world too, but for young bonobo females, big mama comes to the rescue. Japanese primatologists report in Animal Behaviour that older bonobo females frequently aid younger females when males behave aggressively towards them. “We may have uncovered one of the ways in […]

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Chimpanzees who travel are more frequent tool users

Chimpanzees who travel are more frequent tool users, according to new findings from the University of Neuchâtel and the University of Geneva, Switzerland, to be published in eLife. Hawa is a wild chimpanzee from the Budongo Forest in Uganda who burns up a lot of energy travelling, which he has learnt to replenish with a […]

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It’s not just a grunt: Pigs really do have something to say

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The grunts made by pigs vary depending on the pig’s personality and can convey important information about the welfare of this highly social species, new research has found. Scientists specialising in animal behaviour and welfare devised an experiment to investigate the relationship between personality and the rate of grunting in pigs. They also examined the […]

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* The story of how a touch screen helped a paralyzed chimp walk again

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The case of Reo, a male chimpanzee that learned to walk again after being paralyzed due to illness, shows how much can be done to rehabilitate animals injured in captivity. So says lead author Yoko Sakuraba of Kyoto University, in an article in Primates, the official journal of the Japan Monkey Centre published by Springer. […]

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* The snow leopard — world’s most mysterious big cat — may be more common than thought

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The snow leopard has long been one of the least studied — and therefore poorly understood — of the large cats. No longer. Scientists studying snow leopards now say the big cats may be more common than previously thought. New estimates focused on areas described as ‘Snow Leopard Conservation Units,’ covering only 44 percent of […]

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Exploring ways to ‘coexist with wildlife’

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Although protected areas such as national parks can play a crucial role in conserving wildlife, most species of large carnivores and large herbivores also depend on being able to occupy human-dominated landscapes. This sharing of space is often associated with conflicts between humans and wildlife, and between different groups of humans with divergent interests. In […]

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* Monkeys in Brazil ‘have used stone tools for hundreds of years at least’

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New archaeological evidence suggests that Brazilian capuchins have been using stone tools to crack open cashew nuts for at least 700 years. Researchers say, to date, they have found the earliest archaeological examples of monkey tool use outside of Africa. In their paper, published in Current Biology, they suggest it raises questions about the origins […]

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On the path to controlled gene therapy

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The ability to switch disease-causing genes on and off remains a dream for many physicians, research scientists and patients. Research teams from across the world are busy turning this dream into a reality, including a team of researchers from Charité — Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg. Led by […]

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* Droppings activate the immune system in nestlings

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Until now, it was believed that birds removed droppings from their nests to avoid the appearance of parasites. A recent investigation contradicts this hypothesis, concluding that feces activate the immune system of blackbird chicks and only attract insects. In the animal world, strict rules are followed to deal with sources of contamination and potential dangers […]

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How chameleons capture their prey

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Despite their nonchalant appearance, chameleons are formidable predators, capturing their prey by whipping out their tongues with incredible precision. They can even capture preys weighing up to 30% of their own weight. In collaboration with the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle de Paris, researchers from the Université de Mons (UMONS) and the Université libre de Bruxelles […]

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Precise control of brain circuit alters mood

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Pacemaker circuit keeps emotional centers working together. By combining super-fine electrodes and tiny amounts of a very specific drug, Duke University researchers have singled out a circuit in mouse brains and taken control of it to dial an animal’s mood up and down. Stress-susceptible animals that behaved as if they were depressed or anxious were […]

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Aging monkeys become more selective regarding their social circle

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As people get older, they become choosier about how they spend their time and with whom they spend it. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on June 23 find, based on a series of experimental and behavioral studies, that similar changes take place in Barbary macaques. The findings offer an evolutionary […]

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To tool or not to tool? Clever cockatoos make economic decisions about tool use

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As animal tool use events are extremely rare, is often quickly rated as intelligent. Nevertheless, some types of tool use can be controlled by much simpler processes that are a part of the respective animal’s inborn behavioural repertoire. Intelligent tool use requires the ability to flexibly adapt a behaviour to changing environmental situations. The Indonesian […]

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Female blue tits sing in the face of danger

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Until now, the singing behaviour of songbirds had been mainly associated with competitive behaviour and the search for a partner. Moreover, males had long been considered to be the more active singer. Females were compared to the behaviour of the males and were seen as relatively “lazy” with regard to singing. These assumptions had also […]

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Dogs were domesticated not once, but twice … in different parts of the world

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The question, ‘Where do domestic dogs come from?’, has vexed scholars for a very long time. Some argue that humans first domesticated wolves in Europe, while others claim this happened in Central Asia or China. A new paper, published in Science, suggests that all these claims may be right. Supported by funding from the European […]

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Sparrows with unfaithful ‘wives’ care less for their young

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A new study shows that male sparrows can judge if a spouse is prone to infidelity, providing less food for their brood if their partner is unfaithful. Sparrows form pair bonds that are normally monogamous, but many females are unfaithful to their partner and have offspring with other males. Biologists believe that the male birds […]

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