Social learning of migratory performance

By: , and 



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.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Social learning of migratory performance
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.1237139
Volume 341
Issue 6149
Year Published 2013
Language English
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 4 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Science
First page 999
Last page 1002
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