Life history and social learning

Megapode chicks fail to acquire feeding preferences from conspecifics

Ann Göth*, Christopher S. Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


Australian brush-turkeys, Alectura lathami, are birds with an unusual life history: The young receive no parental care and first encounter conspecifics at an unpredictable age. Brush-turkey chicks that were 3-4 days old were presented with a robot model that appeared to feed from a distinctively colored dish. In control training trials, chicks saw a robot standing next to a different dish and scanning from side to side, Chicks expressed a strong tendency to feed from dishes of the type indicated by the pecking robot, hut this effect proved ephemeral. Brush-turkeys hence appear to show no social learning under conditions that inculcate stable preferences in other galliforms such as chickens, suggesting that life history plays an important role in the evolution of learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-386
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005

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