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Behavioural flexibility and problem solving in an invasive bird

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Antonio M. M. Rodrigues.

Behavioral flexibility is considered an important trait for adapting to environmental change, but it is unclear what it is, how it works, and whether it is a problem solving ability. I investigated behavioral flexibility and problem solving experimentally in great-tailed grackles, an invasive bird species and thus a likely candidate for possessing behavioral flexibility. Grackles demonstrated behavioral flexibility in two contexts. Contrary to predictions, behavioral flexibility did not correlate across contexts. Grackles exhibited efficient problem solving abilities, but problem solving efficiency did not appear to be directly linked with behavioral flexibility. Problem solving speed also did not significantly correlate with reversal learning scores, indicating that faster learners were not the most flexible. These results reveal how little we know about behavioral flexibility, and provide an immense opportunity for future research to explore how individuals and species can use behavior to react to changing environments.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Science Society talks series.

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