Detecting Social Transmission in Animal Populations

Mary Woodcock Kroble
Sunday 9 November 2008
Date: 4 February 2009
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Speaker: Dr Will Hoppitt (School of Biology)

Abstract

Controlled laboratory studies have shown that social learning, resulting in social transmission, is common in a wide range of animal taxa. This has lead to claims of animal cultures in some species, such as chimpanzees. However, skeptics claim that we cannot be sure that social transmission is responsible for the observed behavioural variation. To resolve this debate, we need methods to detect social transmission in populations of animals. In this talk I describe two statistical methods we have been working on to resolve this issue: detecting “option bias” and inferring social transmission from the in which individuals acquire a behavioural trait.