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Science. 2013 Aug 30;341(6149):999-1002. doi: 10.1126/science.1237139.

Social learning of migratory performance.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA. muellert@gmail.com

Abstract

Successful bird migration can depend on individual learning, social learning, and innate navigation programs. Using 8 years of data on migrating whooping cranes, we were able to partition genetic and socially learned aspects of migration. Specifically, we analyzed data from a reintroduced population wherein all birds were captive bred and artificially trained by ultralight aircraft on their first lifetime migration. For subsequent migrations, in which birds fly individually or in groups but without ultralight escort, we found evidence of long-term social learning, but no effect of genetic relatedness on migratory performance. Social learning from older birds reduced deviations from a straight-line path, with 7 years of experience yielding a 38% improvement in migratory accuracy.

PMID:
23990559
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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