Tag Archives: Behaviour (Ethology)

Deer make collision-free escapes thanks to inbuilt ‘compasses’

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Why do deer in a group, when startled, suddenly bolt away together and never collide with each other? It’s because these deer have an inner compass that allows them to follow a certain direction in order to make their escape. Their getaway is almost always along a north-south axis, thanks to their ability to sense […]

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The primate brain is ‘pre-adapted’ to face potentially any situation

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Scientists have shown how the brain anticipates all of the new situations that it may encounter in a lifetime by creating a special kind of neural network that is “pre-adapted” to face any eventuality. This emerges from a new neuroscience study published in PLOS Computational Biology. Enel et al at the INSERM in France investigate […]

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* Elephant calves more likely to survive in the care of their grandmothers

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Among the Asian elephants, the grandmothers have a significant role. They ensure the survival of the calves and breeding success for their daughters. Grandmothers often provide vital childcare in human communities across the world. In traditional societies such help even increases grandchildren’s survival prospects and leads to shorter birth intervals for the daughters. In a […]

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Climate change likely to turn up heat on koalas

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A changing climate means that by 2070 koalas may no longer call large parts of inland Australia home, researchers have found. Using a detailed ecological model, the University of Melbourne study shows hotter temperatures and altered rainfall patterns will make it much more difficult for koalas to get the water they need — making inland […]

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Don’t feed the monkeys: Why your generosity is harming their health

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Tourists who feed wild monkeys in Morocco are risking the health of an endangered species by making them larger, more susceptible to disease, and more stressed, according to new research. Behavioral ecologists compared the health of two groups of wild Barbary macaques in Ifrane National Park in the Atlas Mountains, Morocco; one which spent nearly […]

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Great apes communicate cooperatively

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Gestural communication in bonobos and chimpanzees shows turn-taking and clearly distinguishable communication styles. Human communication is one of the most sophisticated signalling systems, being highly cooperative and including fast interactions. The first step into this collective endeavour can already be observed in early infancy, well before the use of first words, when children start to […]

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Male birds may sing, but females are faster at discriminating sounds

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It may well be that only male zebra finches can sing, but the females are faster at learning to discriminate sounds. Leiden researchers publish their findings in the scientific journal Animal Behaviour. The scientists reached this conclusion after a meta-analysis of different experiments with the songbirds. Combining the results of 14 separate studies gave them […]

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Why Labrador retrievers are more interested in food than other breeds

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Dog owners tell their vets that Labrador retrievers are always interested in food, and new work shows there might be a biological truth to the claim. A May 3 study in Cell Metabolism links a gene alteration specifically found in Labs and related flat coat retrievers to greater food-motivated behavior, describing the first gene associated […]

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New tech uses hardware, software to train dogs more efficiently

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North Carolina State University researchers have developed and used a customized suite of technologies that allows a computer to train a dog autonomously, with the computer effectively responding to the dog based on the dog’s body language. “Our approach can be used to train dogs efficiently and effectively,” says David Roberts, an assistant professor of […]

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Early life stress accelerates maturation of key brain region in male mice

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Intuition is all one needs to understand that stress in early childhood can create lifelong psychological troubles, but scientists have only begun to explain how those emerge in the brain. They have observed, for example, that stress incurred early in life attenuates neural growth. Now a study in male mice exposed to stress shows that […]

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Highway noise deters communication between birds

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New research from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers shows birds may be avoiding habitats near noisy highways because they can’t hear fellow birds’ alarms that warn them of attacking hawks or owls. Some highways cut through or run along natural areas, and researchers know that wild birds often make their […]

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Tuberculosis in mongoose driven by social communication behavior

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Tuberculosis infection in mongoose driven by social communication behaviour. An emerging strain of tuberculosis (TB), closely related to human TB, has been killing banded mongoose in Northern Botswana in significant numbers. This novel pathogen, Mycobacterium mungi, did not infect mongoose through a primary airborne or oral route as normally seen in TB disease in humans […]

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Slips of the lip stay all in the family: dogs included, but not the cat

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It’s happened to many of us: While looking right at someone you know very well, you open your mouth and blurt out the wrong name. The name you blurt is not just any old name, though, says new research from Duke University that finds “misnaming” follows predictable patterns. Among people who know each other well, […]

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Rough childhoods have ripple effects for wild baboons

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Numerous studies have shown that childhood trauma can have far-reaching effects on adult health and survival; new research finds the same is true for wild baboons. People who experience childhood abuse, neglect and other hallmarks of a rough childhood are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes and other health problems later in life, even […]

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With ravens, out of sight is not out of mind

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The question of what sets humans apart from other animals is one of the oldest philosophical puzzles. A popular answer is that only humans can understand that others also have minds like their own. But new research suggests that ravens — birds singled out by many cultures as a symbol of intelligence and wisdom — […]

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Scientists reveal how animals find their way ‘in the dark’

Scientists have revealed the brain activity in animals that helps them find food and other vital resources in unfamiliar environments where there are no cues, such as lights and sounds, to guide them. Animals that are placed in such environments display spontaneous, seemingly random behaviors when foraging. These behaviors have been observed in many organisms, […]

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No snow, no hares: Climate change pushes emblematic species north

If there is an animal emblematic of the northern winter, it is the snowshoe hare. A forest dweller, the snowshoe hare is named for its big feet, which allow it to skitter over deep snow to escape lynx, coyotes and other predators. It changes color with the seasons, assuming a snow-white fur coat for winter […]

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* Adversity forges unlikely friendship between hyenas, wolves

Vladimir Dinets examined the unlikely friendship between striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) and grey wolves (Canis lupus) in the southern Negev, Israel. He suspects that the particularly inhospitable conditions of the extreme desert — and a need for food — might have pushed the two enemies into an unusual alliance. It is often true in life […]

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* Anatomy of pain

Grimacing, we flinch when we see someone accidentally hit their thumb with a hammer. But is it really pain we feel? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and other institutions have now proposed a new theory that describes pain as a multi-layered gradual event which consists of […]

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Pit bull label may triple length of stay in dog shelters

Dogs labelled as “pit bulls” may wait three times as long to be adopted from shelters than differently labelled lookalikes, according to a study published March 23, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Lisa Gunter from Arizona State University, USA, and colleagues. Previous research had suggested that certain types of dogs take longer […]

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Scientists pinpoint brain circuit for risk preference in rats

Investigators at Stanford University have identified a small group of nerve cells in a specific brain region of rats whose signaling activity, or lack of it, explains the vast bulk of differences in risk-taking preferences among the animals. That activity not only predicts but effectively determines whether an animal decides to take a chance or […]

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* Monkeys drive wheelchairs using only their thoughts

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Neuroscientists at Duke Health have developed a brain-machine interface (BMI) that allows primates to use only their thoughts to navigate a robotic wheelchair. The BMI uses signals from hundreds of neurons recorded simultaneously in two regions of the monkeys’ brains that are involved in movement and sensation. As the animals think about moving toward their […]

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Intense competition for reproduction results in violent mass evictions

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Intense levels of reproductive competition trigger violent evictions of male and female banded mongooses from their family groups, University of Exeter researchers have found. Dominant animals in this species are unable to stop subordinates breeding, leaving them with no resort except to throw them, kicking and screaming, out of the group. Scientists observed a population […]

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Increase in the number of dog attacks on guide dogs in the UK

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Reported dog attacks on guide dogs have risen significantly over a five year period, finds a study published online in the journal Veterinary Record. A total of 629 attacks were reported between 2010 and 2015, with an increase from an average of three per month in 2010 to eleven attacks per month in 2015. The […]

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Woodpecker drumming signals wimp or warrior

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Animal behavior researchers at Wake Forest University have found that the highly territorial downy woodpecker interprets drumming intensity from adversaries to figure out who is or isn’t a threat. Instead of a distinctive song, woodpeckers bang on trees with their bills to create a sound called drumming. The birds use it to communicate when they […]

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Scientists map roots of premeditated, violent ‘intent’ in animal brain

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The bad intentions that often precede violence originate in a specific brain region, according to a study in mice led by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center and published in Nature Neuroscience online March 7. The work is the first, say the study authors, to tie warning signs of premeditated violence — stalking, bullying, and […]

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Bird communication: Chirping with syntax

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Language is one of the defining characteristics of human beings: It enables us to generate unlimited meanings from a finite number of phonetic elements. Using syntactic rules, humans are able to combine words to form phrases and sentences, and thus ascribe meaning to various things and activities. Research on communication systems suggests that non-human primates […]

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* Newly found genomic causes of severe compulsiveness in dogs could aid study of human OCD

Research led by investigators in veterinary and human medicine has identified genetic pathways that exacerbate severity of canine compulsive disorder in Doberman pinschers, a discovery that could lead to better therapies for obsessive compulsive disorder in people. The discovery appears online in advance of print on Feb. 29, 2016 in the International Journal of Applied […]

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Study finds 5x increase in hand sanitizer use when located in hospital

Placing alcohol-based hand sanitizers (AHS) in the middle of a hospital lobby floor in front of the visitor entrance increased visitor usage by 528 percent, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). […]

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Aggression causes new nerve cells to be generated in the brain

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A group of neurobiologists from Russia and the USA, including Dmitry Smagin, Tatyana Michurina, and Grigori Enikolopov from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), have proven experimentally that aggression has an influence on the production of new nerve cells in the brain. The scientists conducted a series of experiments on male mice and published […]

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