Age-dependent social learning in a lizard

Daniel W. A. Noble, Richard W. Byrne, Martin J. Whiting*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Evidence of social learning, whereby the actions of an animal facilitate the acquisition of new information by another, is taxonomically biased towards mammals, especially primates, and birds. However, social learning need not be limited to group-living animals because species with less interaction can still benefit from learning about potential predators, food sources, rivals and mates. We trained male skinks (Eulamprus quoyii), a mostly solitary lizard from eastern Australia, in a two-step foraging task. Lizards belonging to 'young' and 'old' age classes were presented with a novel instrumental task (displacing a lid) and an association task (reward under blue lid). We did not find evidence for age-dependent learning of the instrumental task; however, young males in the presence of a demonstrator learnt the association task faster than young males without a demonstrator, whereas old males in both treatments had similar success rates. We present the first evidence of agedependent social learning in a lizard and suggest that the use of social information for learning may be more widespread than previously believed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140430
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Volume10
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

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