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Cognitive Ecology II

Merging evolutionary ecology and cognitive science, cognitive ecology investigates how animal interactions with natural habitats shape cognitive systems, and how constraints on nervous systems limit or bias animal behavior. Research in cognitive ecology has expanded rapidly in the past decade, and this second volume builds on the foundations laid out in the first, published in 1998.

Cognitive Ecology II integrates numerous scientific disciplines to analyze the ecology and evolution of animal cognition. The contributors cover the mechanisms, ecology, and evolution of learning and memory, including detailed analyses of bee neurobiology, bird song, and spatial learning. They also explore decision making, with mechanistic analyses of reproductive behavior in voles, escape hatching by frog embryos, and predation in the auditory domain of bats and eared insects. Finally, they consider social cognition, focusing on alarm calls and the factors determining social learning strategies of corvids, fish, and mammals.

With cognitive ecology ascending to its rightful place in behavioral and evolutionary research, this volume captures the promise that has been realized in the past decade and looks forward to new research prospects.

384 pages | 45 halftones, 52 line drawings, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2009

Biological Sciences: Behavioral Biology, Biochemistry, Biology--Systematics, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Physiology, Biomechanics, and Morphology

Cognitive Science: Human and Animal Cognition, Neuroscience


“A fundamental challenge in modern science is to understand the links from brains to the plastic behaviour of individuals, groups, societies and species assemblages—and to understand how these interactions are fashioned within an evolutionary and ecological context. Dukas and Ratcliffe and their impressive team of contributors accept this challenge in a fascinating and expertly edited volume that begins with the ultimate and proximate mechanisms of learning, then addresses exciting advances in avian cognition, before proceeding to decision making in mate choice and predator-prey interaction and culminating in the role of cognition in sociality. Biologists of all descriptions as well as psychologists and social scientists need to read this book.”

Stephen J. Simpson, University of Sydney

Cognitive Ecology II is truly impressive. The wide range of questions addressed demonstrates this field’s vitality and broad appeal. It illustrates basic principles using examples from across the animal kingdom and a wide variety of sensory systems and adeptly combines progress reports on well-established topics (e.g. bird song) with syntheses of emerging topics (e.g. social information processing). Ten years ago, Dukas’s first Cognitive Ecology identified a new field; Cognitive Ecology II will define and motivate this exciting and important discipline for the next decade.”

David Stephens, University of Minnesota

“In the first Cognitive Ecology, Reuven Dukas succeeded in bringing together the disparate threads of research in a then just emerging discipline. The book was certainly not alone in attending to animal cognition, but for behavioural ecologists it served as a reference that made clear that learning, attention, and perception could no longer be ignored. More than ten years later, Dukas’ and Ratcliffe’s Cognitive Ecology II provides vivid evidence that the field has achieved maturity and structure. The book updates some of the major topics covered in the first volume, such as avian song, predator-prey interactions, and mate choice, and offers a treatment of emerging fields such as social information use and innovations. But most importantly, it continues in its role of reference for all those that ask questions about behavioural mechanisms. If you need to assess the current state of animal cognition and want to know which questions will pave the way for the coming decade, then Cognitive Ecology II is an absolute must-read. Buy it.”

Luc-Alain Giraldeau, L'Université du Québec à Montréal

Table of Contents


1 Introduction

Reuven Dukas & John M. Ratcliffe

Part I   Learning: Ultimate and Proximate Mechanisms

2 Learning: Mechanisms, Ecology, and Evolution

Reuven Dukas

2.1 Introduction • 2.2 What is learning? • 2.3 Why learn? • 2.4 Who learns? • 2.5 What do animals learn? • 2.6 Is learning important? • 2.7 Prospects

3 The How and Why of Structural Plasticity in the Adult Honeybee Brain

Susan E. Fahrbach & Scott Dobrin

3.1 Introduction • 3.2 The honeybee as a model for the study of neural plasticity •

3.3 Mushroom bodies: Neuroanatomy • 3.4 How does foraging experience change the structure of the honeybee mushroom bodies? • 3.5 What is the function of the honeybee mushroom bodies? • 3.6 Why are the mushroom bodies larger in experienced foragers? • 3.7 Studies of experience-dependent plasticity in the mushroom bodies of other insects • 3.8 Specific future directions

Part II   Avian Cognition: Memory, Song, and Innovation

4 More on the Cognitive Ecology of Song Communication and Song Learning in the Song Sparrow

Michael D. Beecher & John M. Burt

4.1 Introduction • 4.2 Background • 4.3 Song learning in the field • 4.4 Communication by song in male-male interactions • 4.5 Social eavesdropping hypothesis • 4.6 Discussion • 4.7 Summary

5 Consequences of Brain Development for Sexual Signaling in Songbirds

William A. Searcy & Stephen Nowicki

5.1 Introduction • 5.2 The song system • 5.3 Female preferences for song attributes • 5.4 Experimental tests of the developmental stress hypothesis • 5.5 Effects of developmental stress on phenotypic quality • 5.6 Conclusions and prospects

6 Development of Spatial Memory and the Hippocampus under Nutritional Stress: Adaptive Priorities or Developmental Constraints in Brain Development?

Vladimir V. Pravosudov

6.1 Introduction • 6.2 Spatial memory and the hippocampus in birds • 6.3 Nutritional deficits during posthatching development, spatial memory, and the hippocampus in western scrub jays • 6.4 Nutritional deficits during postnatal development and the hippocampus in mammals • 6.5 Hippocampus and song nuclei in birds • 6.6 Does lack of nutrition directly cause changes in the brain? • 6.7 Stem cells • 6.8 Conclusions

7 The Cognitive-Buffer Hypothesis for the Evolution of Large Brains

Daniel Sol

7.1 Introduction • 7.2 Assumptions of the cognitive-buffer hypothesis • 7.3 Predictions of the cognitive-buffer hypothesis • 7.4 Synthesis • 7.5 Avenues for future research • 7.6 Summary

Part III   Decision Making: Mate Choice and Predator-Prey Interactions

8 Cognitive Mate Choice

Michael J. Ryan, Karin L. Akre & Mark Kirkpatrick

8.1 Introduction • 8.2 Detection and perception • 8.3 Evaluation and decision • 8.4 Conclusions and future directions

9 Monogamous Brains and Alternative Tactics: Neuronal V1aR, Space Use, and Sexual Infidelity among Male Prairie Voles

Steven M. Phelps & Alexander G. Ophir

9.1 Introduction • 9.2 Reproductive decisions, space use, and mating tactics • 9.3 Neural substrates of alternative tactics • 9.4 Microsatellite polymorphisms and phenotypic diversity • 9.5 Monogamy and cognitive ecology reconsidered

10 Assessing Risk: Embryos, Information, and Escape Hatching

Karen M. Warkentin & Michael S. Caldwell

10.1 Introduction • 10.2 Cognitive strategies to assess risk using nonstereotyped cues • 10.3 Adaptive responses of embryos in heterogeneous environments • 10.4 Hatching decisions: Information use by red-eyed treefrog embryos • 10.5 Conclusions and future directions

11 Predator-Prey Interaction in an Auditory World John M. Ratcliffe

11.1 Of bats and moths and coevolution • 11.2 Sensory ecology and behavioral flexibility of predatory bats • 11.3 Neuroethology of auditory-evoked defenses in noctuoid moths • 11.4 Bat detection and the primary and secondary defenses of moths • 11.5 Summary and conclusions

Part IV   Cognition and Sociality

12 What Do Functionally Referential Alarm Calls Refer To?

Marta B. Manser

12.1 Introduction • 12.2 Meerkat alarm calls • 12.3 What do functionally referential

alarm calls refer to? • 12.4 Why are some alarm calls considered functionally referential and not others? • 12.5 Can functionally referential calls be explained by emotional expression of the signaler? • 12.6 Conclusions • 12.7 Summary

13 Adaptive Trade-offs in the Use of Social and Personal Information

Rachel L. Kendal, Isabelle Coolen & Kevin N. Laland

13.1 Introduction • 13.2 “When” strategies • 13.3 “Who” strategies • 13.4 Evolutionary implications • 13.5 Summary and future directions

14 The 3E’s Approach to Social Information Use in Birds: Ecology, Ethology, and Evolutionary History

Ira G. Federspiel, Nicola S. Clayton & Nathan J. Emery

14.1 Introduction • 14.2 Case studies • 14.3 Conclusions

15 Prospects

Reuven Dukas & John M. Ratcliffe




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