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Bibliography on: Corvids: Tool Use

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Robert J. Robbins is a biologist, an educator, a science administrator, a publisher, an information technologist, and an IT leader and manager who specializes in advancing biomedical knowledge and supporting education through the application of information technology. More About:  RJR | OUR TEAM | OUR SERVICES | THIS WEBSITE

RJR: Recommended Bibliography 16 Nov 2018 at 01:33 Created: 

Corvids: Tool Use

Wikipedia: Tools are used by animals for purposes including acquiring food and water, grooming, defense, recreation or construction. Originally thought to be a skill only possessed by humans, some tool use requires a sophisticated level of cognition. There is considerable discussion about the definition of what constitutes a tool and therefore which behaviours can be considered as true examples of tool use. A wide range of animals are considered to use tools including mammals, birds, fish, cephalopods and insects. Corvids (crows, ravens and rooks) are well known for their large brains (among birds) and subsequent tool use. They mainly manufacture probes out of twigs and wood (and sometimes metal wire) to catch or impale larvae.

Created with PubMed® Query: (tools OR tool-making OR "tool making" OR "tool use" OR "tool using") AND \(corvus[TIAB] OR corvid[TIAB] OR OR corvids[TIAB] OR corvidae[TIAB] OR crow[TIAB] OR crows[TIAB] OR raven[TIAB] OR ravens[TIAB] OR jay[TIAB] OR jays[TIAB] OR magpie[TIAB] OR magpies[TIAB] OR jackdaw[TIAB] OR jackdaws[TIAB]) NOT pmcbook NOT ispreviousversion

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)

RevDate: 2018-11-09

Laumer IB, Call J, Bugnyar T, et al (2018)

Spontaneous innovation of hook-bending and unbending in orangutans (Pongo abelii).

Scientific reports, 8(1):16518 pii:10.1038/s41598-018-34607-0.

Betty the crow astonished the scientific world as she spontaneously crafted hook-tools from straight wire in order to lift a basket out of vertical tubes. Recently it was suggested that this species' solution was strongly influenced by predispositions from behavioural routines from habitual hook-tool manufacture. Nevertheless, the task became a paradigm to investigate tool innovation. Considering that young humans had surprising difficulties with the task, it was yet unclear whether the innovation of a hooked tool would be feasible to primates that lacked habitual hook making. We thus tested five captive orangutans in a hook bending and unbending task. Orangutans are habitually tool-using primates that have been reported to use but not craft hooked tools for locomotion in the wild. Two orangutans spontaneously innovated hook tools and four unbent the wire from their first trial on. Pre-experience with ready-made hooks had some effect but did not lead to continuous success. Further subjects improved the hook-design feature when the task required the subjects to bent the hook at a steeper angle. Our results indicate that the ability to represent and manufacture tools according to a current need does not require stereotyped behavioural routines, but can indeed arise innovatively. Furthermore, the present study shows that the capacity for hook tool innovation is not limited to large brained birds within non-human animals.

RevDate: 2018-11-01
CmpDate: 2018-11-01

Hennefield L, Hwang HG, Weston SJ, et al (2018)

Meta-analytic techniques reveal that corvid causal reasoning in the Aesop's Fable paradigm is driven by trial-and-error learning.

Animal cognition, 21(6):735-748.

The classic Aesop's fable, Crow and the Pitcher, has inspired a major line of research in comparative cognition. Over the past several years, five articles (over 32 experiments) have examined the ability of corvids (e.g., rooks, crows, and jays) to complete lab-based analogs of this fable, by requiring them to drop stones and other objects into tubes of water to retrieve a floating worm (Bird and Emery in Curr Biol 19:1-5, 2009b; Cheke et al. in Anim Cogn 14:441-455, 2011; Jelbert et al. in PLoS One 3:e92895, 2014; Logan et al. in PLoS One 7:e103049, 2014; Taylor et al. in Gray R D 12:e26887, 2011). These researchers have stressed the unique potential of this paradigm for understanding causal reasoning in corvids. Ghirlanda and Lind (Anim Behav 123:239-247, 2017) re-evaluated trial-level data from these studies and concluded that initial preferences for functional objects, combined with trial-and-error learning, may account for subjects' performance on key variants of the paradigm. In the present paper, we use meta-analytic techniques to provide more precise information about the rate and mode of learning that occurs within and across tasks. Within tasks, subjects learned from successful (but not unsuccessful) actions, indicating that higher-order reasoning about phenomena such as mass, volume, and displacement is unlikely to be involved. Furthermore, subjects did not transfer information learned in one task to subsequent tasks, suggesting that corvids do not engage with these tasks as variants of the same problem (i.e., how to generate water displacement to retrieve a floating worm). Our methodological analysis and empirical findings raise the question: Can Aesop's fable studies distinguish between trial-and-error learning and/or higher-order causal reasoning? We conclude they cannot.

RevDate: 2018-10-25

Bayern AMPV, Danel S, Auersperg AMI, et al (2018)

Compound tool construction by New Caledonian crows.

Scientific reports, 8(1):15676 pii:10.1038/s41598-018-33458-z.

The construction of novel compound tools through assemblage of otherwise non-functional elements involves anticipation of the affordances of the tools to be built. Except for few observations in captive great apes, compound tool construction is unknown outside humans, and tool innovation appears late in human ontogeny. We report that habitually tool-using New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) can combine objects to construct novel compound tools. We presented 8 naïve crows with combinable elements too short to retrieve food targets. Four crows spontaneously combined elements to make functional tools, and did so conditionally on the position of food. One of them made 3- and 4-piece tools when required. In humans, individual innovation in compound tool construction is often claimed to be evolutionarily and mechanistically related to planning, complex task coordination, executive control, and even language. Our results are not accountable by direct reinforcement learning but corroborate that these crows possess highly flexible abilities that allow them to solve novel problems rapidly. The underlying cognitive processes however remain opaque for now. They probably include the species' typical propensity to use tools, their ability to judge affordances that make some objects usable as tools, and an ability to innovate perhaps through virtual, cognitive simulations.

RevDate: 2018-08-24

Aharoni T, A Goldbourt (2018)

Rapid automated determination of chemical shift anisotropy values in the carbonyl and carboxyl groups of fd-y21m bacteriophage using solid state NMR.

Journal of biomolecular NMR pii:10.1007/s10858-018-0206-1 [Epub ahead of print].

Determination of chemical shift anisotropy (CSA) in immobilized proteins and protein assemblies is one of several tools to determine protein dynamics on the timescales of microseconds and faster. The large CSA values of C=O groups in the rigid limit makes them in particular attractive for measurements of large amplitude motions, or their absence. In this study, we implement a 3D R-symmetry-based sequence that recouples the second spatial component of the 13C CSA with the corresponding isotropic 13C'-13C cross-peaks in order to probe backbone and sidechain dynamics in an intact fd-y21m filamentous phage viral capsid. The assignment of the isotropic cross-peaks and the analysis were conducted automatically using a new software named 'Raven'. The software can be utilized to auto-assign any 2D 13C-13C or 15N-13C spectrum given a previously-determined assignment table and generates simultaneously all intensity curves acquired in the third dimension. Here, all CSA spectra were automatically generated, and subsequently matched against a simulated set of CSA curves to yield their values. For the multi-copy, 50-residue-long protein capsid of fd-y21m, the backbone of the helical region is rigid, with reduced CSA values of ~ 12.5 kHz (~ 83 ppm). The N-terminus shows motionally-averaged CSA lineshapes and the carboxylic sidechain groups of four residues indicate large amplitude motions for D4, D5, D12 and E20. The current results further strengthen our previous studies of 15N CSA values and are in agreement with qualitative analysis of 13C-13C dipolar build-up curves, which were automatically obtained using our software. Our automated analysis technique is general and can be applied to study protein structure and dynamics, with data resulting from experiments that probe different variables such as relaxation rates and scaled anisotropic interactions.

RevDate: 2018-08-14

Morales D, Ramirez G, Herrera-Arellano A, et al (2018)

Identification of Digestive Enzyme Inhibitors from Ludwigia octovalvis (Jacq.) P.H.Raven.

Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018:8781352.

Current antiobesity and antidiabetic tools have been insufficient to curb these diseases and frequently cause side effects; therefore, new pancreatic lipase and α-glucosidase inhibitors could be excellent aids for the prevention and treatment of these diseases. The aim of this study was to identify, quantify, and characterize the chemical compounds with the highest degree of inhibitory activity of these enzymes, contained in a Ludwigia octovalvis hydroalcoholic extract. Chemical purification was performed by liquid-liquid separation and column chromatography. Inhibitory activities were measured in vitro, employing acarbose, orlistat, and a Camellia sinensis hydroalcoholic extract as references. For structural elucidation, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance was carried out, and High Performance Liquid Chromatography was used to quantify the compounds. For α-glucosidases, L. octovalvis hydroalcoholic extract and its ethyl acetate fraction showed half-maximal Inhibitory Concentration (IC50) values of 700 and 250 μg/mL, for lipase, 480 and 718 μg/mL, while C. sinensis showed 260 and 587 μg/mL. The most active compounds were identified as ethyl gallate (1, IC50 832 μM) and gallic acid (2, IC50 969 μM); both displayed competitive inhibition of α-glucosidases and isoorientin (3, IC50 201 μM), which displayed uncompetitive inhibition of lipase. These data could be useful in the development of a novel phytopharmaceutical drug.

RevDate: 2018-08-03

Sutton JT, Helmkampf M, Steiner CC, et al (2018)

A High-Quality, Long-Read De Novo Genome Assembly to Aid Conservation of Hawaii's Last Remaining Crow Species.

Genes, 9(8): pii:genes9080393.

Abstract: Genome-level data can provide researchers with unprecedented precision to examine the causes and genetic consequences of population declines, which can inform conservation management. Here, we present a high-quality, long-read, de novo genome assembly for one of the world's most endangered bird species, the 'Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis; Hawaiian crow). As the only remaining native crow species in Hawai'i, the 'Alalā survived solely in a captive-breeding program from 2002 until 2016, at which point a long-term reintroduction program was initiated. The high-quality genome assembly was generated to lay the foundation for both comparative genomics studies and the development of population-level genomic tools that will aid conservation and recovery efforts. We illustrate how the quality of this assembly places it amongst the very best avian genomes assembled to date, comparable to intensively studied model systems. We describe the genome architecture in terms of repetitive elements and runs of homozygosity, and we show that compared with more outbred species, the 'Alalā genome is substantially more homozygous. We also provide annotations for a subset of immunity genes that are likely to be important in conservation management, and we discuss how this genome is currently being used as a roadmap for downstream conservation applications.

RevDate: 2018-08-01

Faria JP, Rocha M, Rocha I, et al (2018)

Methods for automated genome-scale metabolic model reconstruction.

Biochemical Society transactions pii:BST20170246 [Epub ahead of print].

In the era of next-generation sequencing and ubiquitous assembly and binning of metagenomes, new putative genome sequences are being produced from isolate and microbiome samples at ever-increasing rates. Genome-scale metabolic models have enormous utility for supporting the analysis and predictive characterization of these genomes based on sequence data. As a result, tools for rapid automated reconstruction of metabolic models are becoming critically important for supporting the analysis of new genome sequences. Many tools and algorithms have now emerged to support rapid model reconstruction and analysis. Here, we are comparing and contrasting the capabilities and output of a variety of these tools, including ModelSEED, Raven Toolbox, PathwayTools, SuBliMinal Toolbox and merlin.

RevDate: 2018-07-05

Wójciak P, J Rybakowski (2018)

Clinical picture, pathogenesis and psychometric assessment of negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Psychiatria polska, 52(2):185-197.

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia constitute a serious diagnostic and therapeutic problem. They substantially account for the impairment of health, social functioning and quality of life whereas treatment is difficult. In this paper the development of the concept of schizophrenia and negative symptoms is presented. The models of positive and negative symptoms, introduced in the 1980's by Timothy Crow and Nancy Andreasen, and William Carpenter's concept of so-called deficit syndrome with the criteria of the division of negative symptoms into the primary and secondary, are discussed. Current views on the pathogenesis of negative symptoms are shown with reference to neuroimaging studies, neurotransmitter alterations, neuropsychological deficits, genetic, immunological and epidemiological studies. A subsection is devoted to the diagnostics tools for negative symptoms. Chronologically, they are divided into scales of the 1st and 2nd generation. The first generation includes: the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS), the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), the Schedule for the Deficit Syndrome (SDS), and the Proxy for Deficit Syndrome. The second generation scales, developed as a result of the recommendation by American experts in 2006, include: the Brief Negative Syndrome Scale (BNSS) and the Clinical Assessment Interview for Negative Symptoms (CAINS), also the self-assessment scales: the Motivation and Pleasure Scale - Self Report (MAP-SR) and the Self-assessment of Negative Symptoms (SNS). The BNSS and the SNS scales, whose Polish versions were elaborated in the Department of Adult Psychiatry of Poznan University of Medical Sciences, are discussed in-depth.

RevDate: 2018-07-08

Jelbert SA, Hosking RJ, Taylor AH, et al (2018)

Mental template matching is a potential cultural transmission mechanism for New Caledonian crow tool manufacturing traditions.

Scientific reports, 8(1):8956 pii:10.1038/s41598-018-27405-1.

Cumulative cultural evolution occurs when social traditions accumulate improvements over time. In humans cumulative cultural evolution is thought to depend on a unique suite of cognitive abilities, including teaching, language and imitation. Tool-making New Caledonian crows show some hallmarks of cumulative culture; but this claim is contentious, in part because these birds do not appear to imitate. One alternative hypothesis is that crows' tool designs could be culturally transmitted through a process of mental template matching. That is, individuals could use or observe conspecifics' tools, form a mental template of a particular tool design, and then reproduce this in their own manufacture - a process analogous to birdsong learning. Here, we provide the first evidence supporting this hypothesis, by demonstrating that New Caledonian crows have the cognitive capacity for mental template matching. Using a novel manufacture paradigm, crows were first trained to drop paper into a vending machine to retrieve rewards. They later learnt that only items of a particular size (large or small templates) were rewarded. At test, despite being rewarded at random, and with no physical templates present, crows manufactured items that were more similar in size to previously rewarded, than unrewarded, templates. Our results provide the first evidence that this cognitive ability may underpin the transmission of New Caledonian crows' natural tool designs.

RevDate: 2018-02-17

St Clair JJH, Klump BC, Sugasawa S, et al (2018)

Hook innovation boosts foraging efficiency in tool-using crows.

Nature ecology & evolution, 2(3):441-444.

The New Caledonian crow is the only non-human animal known to craft hooked tools in the wild, but the ecological benefit of these relatively complex tools remains unknown. Here, we show that crows acquire food several times faster when using hooked rather than non-hooked tools, regardless of tool material, prey type and extraction context. This implies that small changes to tool shape can strongly affect energy-intake rates, highlighting a powerful driver for technological advancement.

RevDate: 2017-12-19

van Casteren A (2017)

Tool Use: Crows Craft the Right Tool for the Job.

Current biology : CB, 27(24):R1314-R1316.

New research into tool crafting in New Caledonian crows has uncovered factors that influence tool shape and the foraging advantages that these characteristics confer.

RevDate: 2017-12-19

Sugasawa S, Klump BC, St Clair JJH, et al (2017)

Causes and Consequences of Tool Shape Variation in New Caledonian Crows.

Current biology : CB, 27(24):3885-3890.e4.

Hominins have been making tools for over three million years [1], yet the earliest known hooked tools appeared as recently as 90,000 years ago [2]. Hook innovation is likely to have boosted our ancestors' hunting and fishing efficiency [3], marking a major transition in human technological evolution. The New Caledonian crow is the only non-human animal known to craft hooks in the wild [4, 5]. Crows manufacture hooked stick tools in a multi-stage process, involving the detachment of a branch from suitable vegetation; "sculpting" of a terminal hook from the nodal joint; and often additional adjustments, such as length trimming, shaft bending, and bark stripping [4, 6, 7]. Although tools made by a given population share key design features [4, 6, 8], they vary appreciably in overall shape and hook dimensions. Using wild-caught, temporarily captive crows, we experimentally investigated causes and consequences of variation in hook-tool morphology. We found that bird age, manufacture method, and raw-material properties influenced tool morphology, and that hook geometry in turn affected crows' foraging efficiency. Specifically, hook depth varied with both detachment technique and plant rigidity, and deeper hooks enabled faster prey extraction in the provided tasks. Older crows manufactured tools of distinctive shape, with pronounced shaft curvature and hooks of intermediate depth. Future work should explore the interactive effects of extrinsic and intrinsic factors on tool production and deployment. Our study provides a quantitative assessment of the drivers and functional significance of tool shape variation in a non-human animal, affording valuable comparative insights into early hominin tool crafting [9].

RevDate: 2017-12-20

Danel S, Osiurak F, AMP von Bayern (2017)

From the Age of 5 Humans Decide Economically, Whereas Crows Exhibit Individual Preferences.

Scientific reports, 7(1):17043 pii:10.1038/s41598-017-16984-0.

Human societies greatly depend on tools, which spare us considerable time and effort. Humans might have evolved a bias to employ tools, using them even when they are unnecessary. This study aimed to investigate whether adult humans and a distantly related habitually tool-using vertebrate species, the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides), use tools depending on their necessity. In addition, children aged 3 to 5 years were examined to investigate the developmental pattern. The task involved choosing between using a body part (i.e. crows: beak; humans: hand) or a tool for retrieving a reward from a box. All subjects were tested in two conditions. In the Body+/Tool- condition, using the body was more efficient than using the tool, and conversely in the Body-/Tool+ condition. Our results suggest that the capacity to employ tools economically develops late in humans. Crows, however, failed to choose economically. At the individual level, some subjects exhibited striking individual preferences for either using a tool or their beak throughout the task. Whether such biases depend on individual experience or whether they are genetically determined remains to be investigated. Our findings provide new insights about tool use and its cognitive implementation in two outstanding tool-using taxa.

RevDate: 2017-10-13

Lambert ML, Schiestl M, Schwing R, et al (2017)

Function and flexibility of object exploration in kea and New Caledonian crows.

Royal Society open science, 4(9):170652 pii:rsos170652.

A range of non-human animals frequently manipulate and explore objects in their environment, which may enable them to learn about physical properties and potentially form more abstract concepts of properties such as weight and rigidity. Whether animals can apply the information learned during their exploration to solve novel problems, however, and whether they actually change their exploratory behaviour to seek functional information about objects have not been fully explored. We allowed kea (Nestor notabilis) and New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) to explore sets of novel objects both before and after encountering a task in which some of the objects could function as tools. Following this, subjects were given test trials in which they could choose among the objects they had explored to solve a tool-use task. Several individuals from both species performed above chance on these test trials, and only did so after exploring the objects, compared with a control experiment with no prior exploration phase. These results suggest that selection of functional tools may be guided by information acquired during exploration. Neither kea nor crows changed the duration or quality of their exploration after learning that the objects had a functional relevance, suggesting that birds do not adjust their behaviour to explicitly seek this information.

RevDate: 2017-10-14

Stanton L, Davis E, Johnson S, et al (2017)

Adaptation of the Aesop's Fable paradigm for use with raccoons (Procyon lotor): considerations for future application in non-avian and non-primate species.

Animal cognition, 20(6):1147-1152.

To gain a better understanding of the evolution of animal cognition, it is necessary to test and compare the cognitive abilities of a broad array of taxa. Meaningful inter-species comparisons are best achieved by employing universal paradigms that standardize testing among species. Many cognitive paradigms, however, have been tested in only a few taxa, mostly birds and primates. One such example, known as the Aesop's Fable paradigm, is designed to assess causal understanding in animals using water displacement. To evaluate the universal effectiveness of the Aesop's Fable paradigm, we applied this paradigm to a previously untested taxon, the raccoon (Procyon lotor). We first trained captive raccoons to drop stones into a tube of water to retrieve a floating food reward. Next, we presented successful raccoons with objects that differed in the amount of water they displaced to determine whether raccoons could select the most functional option. Raccoons performed differently than corvids and human children did in previous studies of Aesop's Fable, and we found raccoons to be innovative in many aspects of this task. We suggest that raccoon performance in this paradigm reflected differences in tangential factors, such as behavior, morphology, and testing procedures, rather than cognitive deficiencies. We also present insight into previously undocumented challenges that should better inform future Aesop's Fable studies incorporating more diverse taxa.

RevDate: 2018-02-06
CmpDate: 2018-02-06

Laumer IB, Bugnyar T, Reber SA, et al (2017)

Can hook-bending be let off the hook? Bending/unbending of pliant tools by cockatoos.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 284(1862):.

The spontaneous crafting of hook-tools from bendable material to lift a basket out of a vertical tube in corvids has widely been used as one of the prime examples of animal tool innovation. However, it was recently suggested that the animals' solution was hardly innovative but strongly influenced by predispositions from habitual tool use and nest building. We tested Goffin's cockatoo, which is neither a specialized tool user nor a nest builder, on a similar task set-up. Three birds individually learned to bend hook tools from straight wire to retrieve food from vertical tubes and four subjects unbent wire to retrieve food from horizontal tubes. Pre-experience with ready-made hooks had some effect but was not necessary for success. Our results indicate that the ability to represent and manufacture tools according to a current need does not require genetically hardwired behavioural routines, but can indeed arise innovatively from domain general cognitive processing.

RevDate: 2018-01-05
CmpDate: 2018-01-05

Kabadayi C, M Osvath (2017)

Ravens parallel great apes in flexible planning for tool-use and bartering.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 357(6347):202-204.

The ability to flexibly plan for events outside of the current sensory scope is at the core of being human and is crucial to our everyday lives and society. Studies on apes have shaped a belief that this ability evolved within the hominid lineage. Corvids, however, have shown evidence of planning their food hoarding, although this has been suggested to reflect a specific caching adaptation rather than domain-general planning. Here, we show that ravens plan for events unrelated to caching-tool-use and bartering-with delays of up to 17 hours, exert self-control, and consider temporal distance to future events. Their performance parallels that seen in apes and suggests that planning evolved independently in corvids, which opens new avenues for the study of cognitive evolution.

RevDate: 2017-10-23
CmpDate: 2017-10-23

Zarrintab M, R Mirzaei (2017)

Stress induced by heavy metals on breeding of magpie (Pica pica) from central Iran.

Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 143:28-37.

The aim of this study was to address the impacts of some heavy metals (Cd, Pb, Zn, Ni and Cu) contamination on laying behavior, egg quality and breeding performance of Pica pica in north of Isfahan Province, Iran. During the breeding season of 2013, magpie's egg content and eggshell as well as nestling excrements and feathers were collected and total concentrations of heavy metals were measured by ICP-OES. Except for Zn in nestling feathers, the significantly higher concentrations of heavy metals were observed in nestling excrements than other samples. Also, comparison of heavy metals concentrations in egg content and eggshell showed that egg content had significantly higher concentrations of Zn and Pb, instead eggshell had significantly higher amount of Cu and Cd. Except for Cu, all heavy metals concentrations in eggshell had a negative relationship with morphological characters; and also concentration of Cu in egg content showed a significantly negative correlation with egg weight and volume. The most of heavy metals in nestling feathers and excrements had strongly positive correlations with each other. Also all heavy metals levels in eggshell and egg content had significantly positive correlations (except for Cu). Unhatched eggs had significantly lower weight but also greater levels of Zn, Cd, and Pb, than randomly collected eggs. No significant differences were observed for morphometric measurements of eggs between different sites, however, a decreased gradient was observed in egg volume toward the brick kiln site. Samples collected in brick kiln site accumulated higher concentrations of heavy metals than other sites. Although numbers of clutch size in brick kiln site were significantly higher than other sites, however, other breeding variable were lower than other sites. It can be suggested that ecosystem contamination may be caused to decrease the reproduction rate of Pica pica in brick kiln, probably by laying more poor quality eggs per clutch and nestling mortality.

RevDate: 2018-02-13
CmpDate: 2018-02-13

Whalley CL, Cutting N, SR Beck (2017)

The effect of prior experience on children's tool innovation.

Journal of experimental child psychology, 161:81-94.

Spontaneous tool innovation to solve physical problems is difficult for young children. In three studies, we explored the effect of prior experience with tools on tool innovation in children aged 4-7years (N=299). We also gave children an experience more consistent with that experienced by corvids in similar studies to enable fairer cross-species comparisons. Children who had the opportunity to use a premade target tool in the task context during a warm-up phase were significantly more likely to innovate a tool to solve the problem on the test trial compared with children who had no such warm-up experience. Older children benefited from either using or merely seeing a premade target tool prior to a test trial requiring innovation. Younger children were helped by using a premade target tool. Seeing the tool helped younger children in some conditions. We conclude that spontaneous innovation of tools to solve physical problems is difficult for children. However, children from 4years of age can innovate the means to solve the problem when they have had experience with the solution (visual or haptic exploration). Directions for future research are discussed.

RevDate: 2017-08-16

Matsui H, EI Izawa (2017)

Flexible motor adjustment of pecking with an artificially extended bill in crows but not in pigeons.

Royal Society open science, 4(2):160796 pii:rsos160796.

The dextrous foraging skills of primates, including humans, are underpinned by flexible vision-guided control of the arms/hands and even tools as body-part extensions. This capacity involves a visuomotor conversion process that transfers the locations of the hands/arms and a target in retinal coordinates into body coordinates to generate a reaching/grasping movement and to correct online. Similar capacities have evolved in birds, such as tool use in corvids and finches, which represents the flexible motor control of extended body parts. However, the flexibility of avian head-reaching and bill-grasping with body-part extensions remains poorly understood. This study comparatively investigated the flexibility of pecking with an artificially extended bill in crows and pigeons. Pecking performance and kinematics were examined when the bill extension was attached, and after its removal. The bill extension deteriorated pecking in pigeons in both performance and kinematics over 10 days. After the bill removal, pigeons started bill-grasping earlier, indicating motor adaptation to the bill extension. Contrastingly, pecking in crows was deteriorated transiently with the bill extension, but was recovered by adjusting pecking at closer distances, suggesting a quick adjustment to the bill extension. These results indicate flexible visuomotor control to extended body parts in crows but not in pigeons.

RevDate: 2018-07-16
CmpDate: 2018-07-16

Uomini N, G Hunt (2017)

A new tool-using bird to crow about.

Learning & behavior, 45(3):205-206.

The Hawaiian crow has been revealed as a skilled tool user, confirmed by testing the last members of this endangered species that survive in captivity. The finding suggests its behavior is tantalizingly similar to that of the famous tool-using New Caledonian crow and has implications for the evolution of tool use and intelligence in birds.

RevDate: 2017-07-05
CmpDate: 2017-07-05

Neilands PD, Jelbert SA, Breen AJ, et al (2016)

How Insightful Is 'Insight'? New Caledonian Crows Do Not Attend to Object Weight during Spontaneous Stone Dropping.

PloS one, 11(12):e0167419 pii:PONE-D-16-24957.

It is highly difficult to pinpoint what is going through an animal's mind when it appears to solve a problem by 'insight'. Here, we searched for an information processing error during the emergence of seemingly insightful stone dropping in New Caledonian crows. We presented these birds with the platform apparatus, where a heavy object needs to be dropped down a tube and onto a platform in order to trigger the release of food. Our results show New Caledonian crows exhibit a weight inattention error: they do not attend to the weight of an object when innovating stone dropping. This suggests that these crows do not use an understanding of force when solving the platform task in a seemingly insightful manner. Our findings showcase the power of the signature-testing approach, where experiments search for information processing biases, errors and limits, in order to make strong inferences about the functioning of animal minds.

RevDate: 2018-03-21

St Clair JJ, Klump BC, van der Wal JE, et al (2016)

Strong between-site variation in New Caledonian crows' use of hook-tool-making materials.

Biological journal of the Linnean Society. Linnean Society of London, 118(2):226-232.

Functional tool use requires the selection of appropriate raw materials. New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides are known for their extraordinary tool-making behaviour, including the crafting of hooked stick tools from branched vegetation. We describe a surprisingly strong between-site difference in the plant materials used by wild crows to manufacture these tools: crows at one study site use branches of the non-native shrub Desmanthus virgatus, whereas only approximately 7 km away, birds apparently ignore this material in favour of the terminal twigs of an as-yet-unidentified tree species. Although it is likely that differences in local plant communities drive this striking pattern, it remains to be determined how and why crows develop such strong site-specific preferences for certain raw materials.

RevDate: 2017-09-22

Rutz C, Sugasawa S, van der Wal JE, et al (2016)

Tool bending in New Caledonian crows.

Royal Society open science, 3(8):160439 pii:rsos160439.

'Betty' the New Caledonian crow astonished the world when she 'spontaneously' bent straight pieces of garden wire into hooked foraging tools. Recent field experiments have revealed that tool bending is part of the species' natural behavioural repertoire, providing important context for interpreting Betty's iconic wire-bending feat. More generally, this discovery provides a compelling illustration of how natural history observations can inform laboratory-based research into the cognitive capacities of non-human animals.

RevDate: 2018-03-16
CmpDate: 2018-01-08

van Horik JO, NJ Emery (2016)

Transfer of physical understanding in a non-tool-using parrot.

Animal cognition, 19(6):1195-1203.

Physical cognition has generally been assessed in tool-using species that possess a relatively large brain size, such as corvids and apes. Parrots, like corvids and apes, also have large relative brain sizes, yet although parrots rarely use tools in the wild, growing evidence suggests comparable performances on physical cognition tasks. It is, however, unclear whether success on such tasks is facilitated by previous experience and training procedures. We therefore investigated physical comprehension of object relationships in two non-tool-using species of captive neotropical parrots on a new means-end paradigm, the Trap-Gaps task, using unfamiliar materials and modified training procedures that precluded procedural cues. Red-shouldered macaws (Diopsittaca nobilis) and black-headed caiques (Pionites melanocephala) were presented with an initial task that required them to discriminate between pulling food trays through gaps while attending to the respective width of the gaps and size of the trays. Subjects were then presented with a novel, but functionally equivalent, transfer task. Six of eight birds solved the initial task through trial-and-error learning. Four of these six birds solved the transfer task, with one caique demonstrating spontaneous comprehension. These findings suggest that non-tool-using parrots may possess capacities for sophisticated physical cognition by generalising previously learned rules across novel problems.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2016-10-05

Rutz C, Klump BC, Komarczyk L, et al (2016)

Discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow.

Nature, 537(7620):403-407.

Only a handful of bird species are known to use foraging tools in the wild. Amongst them, the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides) stands out with its sophisticated tool-making skills. Despite considerable speculation, the evolutionary origins of this species' remarkable tool behaviour remain largely unknown, not least because no naturally tool-using congeners have yet been identified that would enable informative comparisons. Here we show that another tropical corvid, the 'Alalā (C. hawaiiensis; Hawaiian crow), is a highly dexterous tool user. Although the 'Alalā became extinct in the wild in the early 2000s, and currently survives only in captivity, at least two lines of evidence suggest that tool use is part of the species' natural behavioural repertoire: juveniles develop functional tool use without training, or social input from adults; and proficient tool use is a species-wide capacity. 'Alalā and New Caledonian crows evolved in similar environments on remote tropical islands, yet are only distantly related, suggesting that their technical abilities arose convergently. This supports the idea that avian foraging tool use is facilitated by ecological conditions typical of islands, such as reduced competition for embedded prey and low predation risk. Our discovery creates exciting opportunities for comparative research on multiple tool-using and non-tool-using corvid species. Such work will in turn pave the way for replicated cross-taxonomic comparisons with the primate lineage, enabling valuable insights into the evolutionary origins of tool-using behaviour.

RevDate: 2018-03-16
CmpDate: 2018-01-08

Jacobs IF, von Bayern A, M Osvath (2016)

A novel tool-use mode in animals: New Caledonian crows insert tools to transport objects.

Animal cognition, 19(6):1249-1252.

New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) rely heavily on a range of tools to extract prey. They manufacture novel tools, save tools for later use, and have morphological features that facilitate tool use. We report six observations, in two individuals, of a novel tool-use mode not previously reported in non-human animals. Insert-and-transport tool use involves inserting a stick into an object and then moving away, thereby transporting both object and tool. All transported objects were non-food objects. One subject used a stick to transport an object that was too large to be handled by beak, which suggests the tool facilitated object control. The function in the other cases is unclear but seems to be an expression of play or exploration. Further studies should investigate whether it is adaptive in the wild and to what extent crows can flexibly apply the behaviour in experimental settings when purposive transportation of objects is advantageous.

RevDate: 2017-01-04
CmpDate: 2017-01-03

Matsui H, Hunt GR, Oberhofer K, et al (2016)

Adaptive bill morphology for enhanced tool manipulation in New Caledonian crows.

Scientific reports, 6:22776 pii:srep22776.

Early increased sophistication of human tools is thought to be underpinned by adaptive morphology for efficient tool manipulation. Such adaptive specialisation is unknown in nonhuman primates but may have evolved in the New Caledonian crow, which has sophisticated tool manufacture. The straightness of its bill, for example, may be adaptive for enhanced visually-directed use of tools. Here, we examine in detail the shape and internal structure of the New Caledonian crow's bill using Principal Components Analysis and Computed Tomography within a comparative framework. We found that the bill has a combination of interrelated shape and structural features unique within Corvus, and possibly birds generally. The upper mandible is relatively deep and short with a straight cutting edge, and the lower mandible is strengthened and upturned. These novel combined attributes would be functional for (i) counteracting the unique loading patterns acting on the bill when manipulating tools, (ii) a strong precision grip to hold tools securely, and (iii) enhanced visually-guided tool use. Our findings indicate that the New Caledonian crow's innovative bill has been adapted for tool manipulation to at least some degree. Early increased sophistication of tools may require the co-evolution of morphology that provides improved manipulatory skills.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2016-01-21

Habibzadeh A, Pourabdol S, S Saravani (2015)

The effect of emotion regulation training in decreasing emotion failures and self-injurious behaviors among students suffering from specific learning disorder (SLD).

Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 29:279.

BACKGROUND: A great deal of attention has been given to the study of learning disorders. Hence, the aim of this research was to study the effect of emotion regulation training in decreasing emotion failures and self-injurious behaviors among students suffering from specific learning disorder.

METHODS: This was an experimental study with the pre-test, post-test and a control group. Research population included all 5th grade male students suffering from specific learning disorder (case study: 5th grade students in Ardabil in 2015). Research sample included 40 male students suffering from specific learning disorder (SLD) who were selected through multi-step cluster sampling and classified into two groups: Experimental group (n= 20) and control group (n= 20). The following tools were used for data collection: Kay Math mathematic Test, Raven Intelligence Test, Reading Test of Shafiei et al, Falahchay Writing Expression, Emotion Failures Scale, Self-Injurious Behavior Questionnaire and Diagnostic Interview based on DSM-5. Data were analyzed by multivariate of variance analysis (MANOVA) model in the SPSS software version 22.

RESULTS: The results of MANOVA revealed that emotion regulation training was effective in decreasing emotion failures in all parameters (difficulty in describing feelings, difficulty in identifying feelings, and externally oriented thinking style) and self-injurious behaviors in students suffering from specific learning disorder (p< 0.001).

CONCLUSION: In this study, it was found that since emotion regulation training can have a remarkable effect on reducing negative emotions and increasing the positive ones; this treatment can play an eminent role in decreasing emotion failures and self-injurious behaviors in such students.

RevDate: 2017-01-13
CmpDate: 2017-01-13

Troscianko J, C Rutz (2015)

Activity profiles and hook-tool use of New Caledonian crows recorded by bird-borne video cameras.

Biology letters, 11(12):20150777.

New Caledonian crows are renowned for their unusually sophisticated tool behaviour. Despite decades of fieldwork, however, very little is known about how they make and use their foraging tools in the wild, which is largely owing to the difficulties in observing these shy forest birds. To obtain first estimates of activity budgets, as well as close-up observations of tool-assisted foraging, we equipped 19 wild crows with self-developed miniature video cameras, yielding more than 10 h of analysable video footage for 10 subjects. While only four crows used tools during recording sessions, they did so extensively: across all 10 birds, we conservatively estimate that tool-related behaviour occurred in 3% of total observation time, and accounted for 19% of all foraging behaviour. Our video-loggers provided first footage of crows manufacturing, and using, one of their most complex tool types--hooked stick tools--under completely natural foraging conditions. We recorded manufacture from live branches of paperbark (Melaleuca sp.) and another tree species (thought to be Acacia spirorbis), and deployment of tools in a range of contexts, including on the forest floor. Taken together, our video recordings reveal an 'expanded' foraging niche for hooked stick tools, and highlight more generally how crows routinely switch between tool- and bill-assisted foraging.

RevDate: 2015-12-19
CmpDate: 2016-09-23

Malik A, Mallajosyula VV, Mishra NN, et al (2015)

Generation and Characterization of Monoclonal Antibodies Specific to Avian Influenza H5N1 Hemagglutinin Protein.

Monoclonal antibodies in immunodiagnosis and immunotherapy, 34(6):436-441.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus has in the past breached the species barrier from infected domestic poultry to humans in close contact. Although human-to-human transmission has previously not been reported, HPAI H5N1 virus has pandemic potential owing to gain of function mutation(s) and/or genetic reassortment with human influenza A viruses. Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) have been used for diagnosis as well as specific therapeutic candidates in several disease conditions including viral infections in humans. In this study, we describe the preliminary characterization of four murine MAbs developed against recombinant hemagglutinin (rHA) protein of avian H5N1 A/turkey/Turkey/1/2005 virus that are either highly specific or broadly reactive against HA from other H5N1 subtype viruses, such as A/Hong Kong/213/03, A/Common magpie/Hong Kong/2256/2006, and A/Barheaded goose/Quinghai/14/2008. The antibody binding is specific to H5N1 HAs, as none of the antibodies bound H1N1, H2N2, H3N2, or B/Brisbane/60/2008 HAs. Out of the four MAbs, one of them (MA-7) also reacted weakly with the rHA protein of H7N9 A/Anhui/1/2013. All four MAbs bound H5 HA (A/turkey/Turkey/1/2005) with high affinity with an equilibrium dissociation constant (KD) ranging between 0.05 and 10.30 nM. One of the MAbs (MA-1) also showed hemagglutination inhibition activity (HI titer; 31.25 μg/mL) against the homologous A/turkey/Turkey/1/2005 H5N1 virus. These antibodies may be useful in developing diagnostic tools for detection of influenza H5N1 virus infection.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2016-07-06

Klump BC, Sugasawa S, St Clair JJ, et al (2015)

Hook tool manufacture in New Caledonian crows: behavioural variation and the influence of raw materials.

BMC biology, 13:97 pii:10.1186/s12915-015-0204-7.

BACKGROUND: New Caledonian crows use a range of foraging tools, and are the only non-human species known to craft hooks. Based on a small number of observations, their manufacture of hooked stick tools has previously been described as a complex, multi-stage process. Tool behaviour is shaped by genetic predispositions, individual and social learning, and/or ecological influences, but disentangling the relative contributions of these factors remains a major research challenge. The properties of raw materials are an obvious, but largely overlooked, source of variation in tool-manufacture behaviour. We conducted experiments with wild-caught New Caledonian crows, to assess variation in their hooked stick tool making, and to investigate how raw-material properties affect the manufacture process.

RESULTS: In Experiment 1, we showed that New Caledonian crows' manufacture of hooked stick tools can be much more variable than previously thought (85 tools by 18 subjects), and can involve two newly-discovered behaviours: 'pulling' for detaching stems and bending of the tool shaft. Crows' tool manufactures varied significantly: in the number of different action types employed; in the time spent processing the hook and bending the tool shaft; and in the structure of processing sequences. In Experiment 2, we examined the interaction of crows with raw materials of different properties, using a novel paradigm that enabled us to determine subjects' rank-ordered preferences (42 tools by 7 subjects). Plant properties influenced: the order in which crows selected stems; whether a hooked tool was manufactured; the time required to release a basic tool; and, possibly, the release technique, the number of behavioural actions, and aspects of processing behaviour. Results from Experiment 2 suggested that at least part of the natural behavioural variation observed in Experiment 1 is due to the effect of raw-material properties.

CONCLUSIONS: Our discovery of novel manufacture behaviours indicates a plausible scenario for the evolutionary origins, and gradual refinement, of New Caledonian crows' hooked stick tool making. Furthermore, our experimental demonstration of a link between raw-material properties and aspects of tool manufacture provides an alternative hypothesis for explaining regional differences in tool behaviours observed in New Caledonian crows, and some primate species.

RevDate: 2017-09-22
CmpDate: 2016-05-10

St Clair JJ, Burns ZT, Bettaney EM, et al (2015)

Experimental resource pulses influence social-network dynamics and the potential for information flow in tool-using crows.

Nature communications, 6:7197 pii:ncomms8197.

Social-network dynamics have profound consequences for biological processes such as information flow, but are notoriously difficult to measure in the wild. We used novel transceiver technology to chart association patterns across 19 days in a wild population of the New Caledonian crow--a tool-using species that may socially learn, and culturally accumulate, tool-related information. To examine the causes and consequences of changing network topology, we manipulated the environmental availability of the crows' preferred tool-extracted prey, and simulated, in silico, the diffusion of information across field-recorded time-ordered networks. Here we show that network structure responds quickly to environmental change and that novel information can potentially spread rapidly within multi-family communities, especially when tool-use opportunities are plentiful. At the same time, we report surprisingly limited social contact between neighbouring crow communities. Such scale dependence in information-flow dynamics is likely to influence the evolution and maintenance of material cultures.

RevDate: 2016-10-26
CmpDate: 2016-06-30

Saakian DB, CK Hu (2016)

Mathematical Models of Quasi-Species Theory and Exact Results for the Dynamics.

Current topics in microbiology and immunology, 392:121-139.

We formulate the Crow-Kimura, discrete-time Eigen model, and continuous-time Eigen model. These models are interrelated and we established an exact mapping between them. We consider the evolutionary dynamics for the single-peak fitness and symmetric smooth fitness. We applied the quantum mechanical methods to find the exact dynamics of the evolution model with a single-peak fitness. For the smooth symmetric fitness landscape, we map exactly the evolution equations into Hamilton-Jacobi equation (HJE). We apply the method to the Crow-Kimura (parallel) and Eigen models. We get simple formulas to calculate the dynamics of the maximum of distribution and the variance. We review the existing mathematical tools of quasi-species theory.

RevDate: 2018-01-24
CmpDate: 2015-11-03

Taylor AH, RD Gray (2014)

Is there a link between the crafting of tools and the evolution of cognition?.

Wiley interdisciplinary reviews. Cognitive science, 5(6):693-703.

UNLABELLED: The ability to craft tools is one of the defining features of our species. The technical intelligence hypothesis predicts that tool-making species should have enhanced physical cognition. Here we review how the physical problem-solving performance of tool-making apes and corvids compares to closely related species. We conclude that, while some performance differences have been found, overall the evidence is at best equivocal. We argue that increased sample sizes, novel experimental designs, and a signature-testing approach are required to determine the effect tool crafting has on the evolution of intelligence. WIREs Cogn Sci 2014, 5:693-703. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1322 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest for this article.

RevDate: 2015-11-17
CmpDate: 2016-09-06

Schmelz M, Krüger O, Call J, et al (2015)

A comparison of spontaneous problem-solving abilities in three estrildid finch (Taeniopygia guttata, Lonchura striata var. domestica, Stagonopleura guttata) species.

Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983), 129(4):356-365.

Cognition has been extensively studied in primates while other, more distantly related taxa have been neglected for a long time. More recently, there has been an increased interest in avian cognition, with the focus mostly on big-brained species like parrots and corvids. However, the majority of bird species has never systematically been studied in diverse cognitive tasks other than memory and learning tasks, so not much can yet be concluded about the relevant factors for the evolution of cognition. Here we examined 3 species of the estrildid finch family in problem-solving tasks. These granivorous, non-tool-using birds are distributed across 3 continents and are not known for high levels of innovation or spontaneous problem solving in the wild. In this study, our aim was to find such abilities in these species, assess what role domestication might play with a comparison of 4 genetically separated zebra finch strains, and to look for between-species differences between zebra finches, Bengalese finches, and diamond firetails. Furthermore, we established a 3-step spontaneous problem-solving procedure with increasing levels of complexity. Results showed that some estrildid finches were generally capable of spontaneously solving problems of variable complexity to obtain food. We found striking differences in these abilities between species, but not between strains within species, and offer a discussion of potential reasons. Our established methodology can now be applied to a larger number of bird species for phylogenetic comparisons on the behavioral level to get a deeper understanding of the evolution of cognitive abilities.

RevDate: 2017-11-11
CmpDate: 2017-01-16

Logan CJ, Breen AJ, Taylor AH, et al (2016)

How New Caledonian crows solve novel foraging problems and what it means for cumulative culture.

Learning & behavior, 44(1):18-28.

New Caledonian crows make and use tools, and tool types vary over geographic landscapes. Social learning may explain the variation in tool design, but it is unknown to what degree social learning accounts for the maintenance of these designs. Indeed, little is known about the mechanisms these crows use to obtain information from others, despite the question's importance in understanding whether tool behavior is transmitted via social, genetic, or environmental means. For social transmission to account for tool-type variation, copying must utilize a mechanism that is action specific (e.g., pushing left vs. right) as well as context specific (e.g., pushing a particular object vs. any object). To determine whether crows can copy a demonstrator's actions as well as the contexts in which they occur, we conducted a diffusion experiment using a novel foraging task. We used a nontool task to eliminate any confounds introduced by individual differences in their prior tool experience. Two groups had demonstrators (trained in isolation on different options of a four-option task, including a two-action option) and one group did not. We found that crows socially learn about context: After observers see a demonstrator interact with the task, they are more likely to interact with the same parts of the task. In contrast, observers did not copy the demonstrator's specific actions. Our results suggest it is unlikely that observing tool-making behavior transmits tool types. We suggest it is possible that tool types are transmitted when crows copy the physical form of the tools they encounter.

RevDate: 2018-05-07
CmpDate: 2016-05-06

Jelbert SA, Singh PJ, Gray RD, et al (2015)

New Caledonian crows rapidly solve a collaborative problem without cooperative cognition.

PloS one, 10(8):e0133253 pii:PONE-D-14-51707.

There is growing comparative evidence that the cognitive bases of cooperation are not unique to humans. However, the selective pressures that lead to the evolution of these mechanisms remain unclear. Here we show that while tool-making New Caledonian crows can produce collaborative behavior, they do not understand the causality of cooperation nor show sensitivity to inequity. Instead, the collaborative behavior produced appears to have been underpinned by the transfer of prior experience. These results suggest that a number of possible selective pressures, including tool manufacture and mobbing behaviours, have not led to the evolution of cooperative cognition in this species. They show that causal cognition can evolve in a domain specific manner-understanding the properties and flexible uses of physical tools does not necessarily enable animals to grasp that a conspecific can be used as a social tool.

RevDate: 2016-10-18
CmpDate: 2015-10-14

Taylor AH, Cheke LG, Waismeyer A, et al (2015)

No conclusive evidence that corvids can create novel causal interventions.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 282(1813):20150796.

RevDate: 2017-03-22
CmpDate: 2016-04-15

Klump BC, van der Wal JE, St Clair JJ, et al (2015)

Context-dependent 'safekeeping' of foraging tools in New Caledonian crows.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 282(1808):20150278.

Several animal species use tools for foraging, such as sticks to extract embedded arthropods and honey, or stones to crack open nuts and eggs. While providing access to nutritious foods, these behaviours may incur significant costs, such as the time and energy spent searching for, manufacturing and transporting tools. These costs can be reduced by re-using tools, keeping them safe when not needed. We experimentally investigated what New Caledonian crows do with their tools between successive prey extractions, and whether they express tool 'safekeeping' behaviours more often when the costs (foraging at height), or likelihood (handling of demanding prey), of tool loss are high. Birds generally took care of their tools (84% of 176 prey extractions, nine subjects), either trapping them underfoot (74%) or storing them in holes (26%)--behaviours we also observed in the wild (19 cases, four subjects). Moreover, tool-handling behaviour was context-dependent, with subjects: keeping their tools safe significantly more often when foraging at height; and storing tools significantly more often in holes when extracting more demanding prey (under these conditions, foot-trapping proved challenging). In arboreal environments, safekeeping can prevent costly tool losses, removing a potentially important constraint on the evolution of habitual and complex tool behaviour.

RevDate: 2017-09-22

Auersperg AM, Oswald N, Domanegg M, et al (2014)

Unrewarded Object Combinations in Captive Parrots.

Animal behavior and cognition, 1(4):470-488.

In primates, complex object combinations during play are often regarded as precursors of functional behavior. Here we investigate combinatory behaviors during unrewarded object manipulation in seven parrot species, including kea, African grey parrots and Goffin cockatoos, three species previously used as model species for technical problem solving. We further examine a habitually tool using species, the black palm cockatoo. Moreover, we incorporate three neotropical species, the yellow- and the black-billed Amazon and the burrowing parakeet. Paralleling previous studies on primates and corvids, free object-object combinations and complex object-substrate combinations such as inserting objects into tubes/holes or stacking rings onto poles prevailed in the species previously linked to advanced physical cognition and tool use. In addition, free object-object combinations were intrinsically structured in Goffin cockatoos and in kea.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2015-09-28

Zhu Y, Sun L, Garbarino A, et al (2015)

PathRings: a web-based tool for exploration of ortholog and expression data in biological pathways.

BMC bioinformatics, 16:165 pii:10.1186/s12859-015-0585-1.

BACKGROUND: High-throughput methods are generating biological data on a vast scale. In many instances, genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data must be interpreted in the context of signaling and metabolic pathways to yield testable hypotheses. Since humans can interpret visual information rapidly, a means for interactive visual exploration that lets biologists interpret such data in a comprehensive and exploratory manner would be invaluable. However, humans have limited memory capacity. Current visualization tools have limited viewing and manipulation capabilities to address complex data analysis problems, and visual exploratory tools are needed to reduce the high mental workload imposed on biologists.

RESULTS: We present PathRings, a new interactive web-based, scalable biological pathway visualization tool for biologists to explore and interpret biological pathways. PathRings integrates metabolic and signaling pathways from Reactome in a single compound graph visualization, and uses color to highlight genes and pathways affected by input data. Pathways are available for multiple species and analysis of user-defined species or input is also possible. PathRings permits an overview of the impact of gene expression data on all pathways to facilitate visual pattern finding. Detailed pathways information can be opened in new visualizations while maintaining the overview, that form a visual exploration provenance. A dynamic multi-view bubbles interface is designed to support biologists' analytical tasks by letting users construct incremental views that further reflect biologists' analytical process. This approach decomposes complex tasks into simpler ones and automates multi-view management.

CONCLUSIONS: PathRings has been designed to accommodate interactive visual analysis of experimental data in the context of pathways defined by Reactome. Our new approach to interface design can effectively support comparative tasks over substantially larger collection than existing tools. The dynamic interaction among multi-view dataset visualization improves the data exploration. PathRings is available free at http://raven.anr.udel.edu/~sunliang/PathRings and the source code is hosted on Github: https://github.com/ivcl/PathRings .

RevDate: 2016-10-18
CmpDate: 2015-08-26

Jacobs IF, von Bayern A, Martin-Ordas G, et al (2015)

Corvids create novel causal interventions after all.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 282(1806):20142504.

RevDate: 2017-11-11
CmpDate: 2016-12-13

Silva KM, Gross TJ, FJ Silva (2015)

Task-specific modulation of adult humans' tool preferences: number of choices and size of the problem.

Learning & behavior, 43(1):44-53.

In two experiments, we examined the effect of modifications to the features of a stick-and-tube problem on the stick lengths that adult humans used to solve the problem. In Experiment 1, we examined whether people's tool preferences for retrieving an out-of-reach object in a tube might more closely resemble those reported with laboratory crows if people could modify a single stick to an ideal length to solve the problem. Contrary to when adult humans have selected a tool from a set of ten sticks, asking people to modify a single stick to retrieve an object did not generally result in a stick whose length was related to the object's distance. Consistent with the prior research, though, the working length of the stick was related to the object's distance. In Experiment 2, we examined the effect of increasing the scale of the stick-and-tube problem on people's tool preferences. Increasing the scale of the task influenced people to select relatively shorter tools than had selected in previous studies. Although the causal structures of the tasks used in the two experiments were identical, their results were not. This underscores the necessity of studying physical cognition in relation to a particular causal structure by using a variety of tasks and methods.

RevDate: 2014-12-17
CmpDate: 2015-08-27

Martinho A, Burns ZT, von Bayern AM, et al (2014)

Monocular tool control, eye dominance, and laterality in New Caledonian crows.

Current biology : CB, 24(24):2930-2934.

Tool use, though rare, is taxonomically widespread, but morphological adaptations for tool use are virtually unknown. We focus on the New Caledonian crow (NCC, Corvus moneduloides), which displays some of the most innovative tool-related behavior among nonhumans. One of their major food sources is larvae extracted from burrows with sticks held diagonally in the bill, oriented with individual, but not species-wide, laterality. Among possible behavioral and anatomical adaptations for tool use, NCCs possess unusually wide binocular visual fields (up to 60°), suggesting that extreme binocular vision may facilitate tool use. Here, we establish that during natural extractions, tool tips can only be viewed by the contralateral eye. Thus, maintaining binocular view of tool tips is unlikely to have selected for wide binocular fields; the selective factor is more likely to have been to allow each eye to see far enough across the midsagittal line to view the tool's tip monocularly. Consequently, we tested the hypothesis that tool side preference follows eye preference and found that eye dominance does predict tool laterality across individuals. This contrasts with humans' species-wide motor laterality and uncorrelated motor-visual laterality, possibly because bill-held tools are viewed monocularly and move in concert with eyes, whereas hand-held tools are visible to both eyes and allow independent combinations of eye preference and handedness. This difference may affect other models of coordination between vision and mechanical control, not necessarily involving tools.

RevDate: 2015-02-18
CmpDate: 2016-03-11

Auersperg AM, van Horik JO, Bugnyar T, et al (2015)

Combinatory actions during object play in psittaciformes (Diopsittaca nobilis, Pionites melanocephala, Cacatua goffini) and corvids (Corvus corax, C. monedula, C. moneduloides).

Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983), 129(1):62-71.

The playful (i.e., not overtly functional) combination of objects is considered a potential ontogenetic and phylogenetic precursor of technical problem solving abilities, as it may lead to affordance learning and honing of mechanical skills. We compared such activities in 6 avian species: 3 psittaciforms (black-headed caiques, red-shouldered macaws, and Goffin cockatoos) and 3 corvids (New Caledonian crows, ravens, and jackdaws). Differences in the type and frequency of object combinations were consistent with species' ecology. Object caching was found predominately in common ravens, which frequently cache food. The most intrinsically structured object combinations were found in New Caledonian crows and Goffin cockatoos, which both stand out for their problem solving abilities in physical tasks. Object insertions prevailed in New Caledonian crows that naturally extract food using tools. Our results support the idea that playful manipulations of inedible objects are linked to physical cognition and problem-solving abilities.

RevDate: 2014-12-16
CmpDate: 2015-10-14

Clayton NS (2015)

Ways of thinking: from crows to children and back again.

Quarterly journal of experimental psychology (2006), 68(2):209-241.

This article reviews some of the recent work on the remarkable cognitive capacities of food-caching corvids. The focus will be on their ability to think about other minds and other times, and tool-using tests of physical problem solving. Research on developmental cognition suggests that young children do not pass similar tests until they are at least four years of age in the case of the social cognition experiments, and eight years of age in the case of the tasks that tap into physical cognition. This developmental trajectory seems surprising. Intuitively, one might have thought that the social and planning tasks required more complex forms of cognitive process, namely Mental Time Travel and Theory of Mind. Perhaps the fact that children pass these tasks earlier than the physical problem-solving tasks is a reflection of cultural influences. Future research will hope to identify these cognitive milestones by starting to develop tasks that might go some way towards understanding the mechanisms underlying these abilities in both children and corvids, to explore similarities and differences in their ways of thinking.

RevDate: 2014-07-24
CmpDate: 2015-11-16

Logan CJ, Jelbert SA, Breen AJ, et al (2014)

Modifications to the Aesop's Fable paradigm change New Caledonian crow performances.

PloS one, 9(7):e103049 pii:PONE-D-14-02835.

While humans are able to understand much about causality, it is unclear to what extent non-human animals can do the same. The Aesop's Fable paradigm requires an animal to drop stones into a water-filled tube to bring a floating food reward within reach. Rook, Eurasian jay, and New Caledonian crow performances are similar to those of children under seven years of age when solving this task. However, we know very little about the cognition underpinning these birds' performances. Here, we address several limitations of previous Aesop's Fable studies to gain insight into the causal cognition of New Caledonian crows. Our results provide the first evidence that any non-human animal can solve the U-tube task and can discriminate between water-filled tubes of different volumes. However, our results do not provide support for the hypothesis that these crows can infer the presence of a hidden causal mechanism. They also call into question previous object-discrimination performances. The methodologies outlined here should allow for more powerful comparisons between humans and other animal species and thus help us to determine which aspects of causal cognition are distinct to humans.

RevDate: 2014-08-08
CmpDate: 2015-04-07

Kanai M, Matsui H, Watanabe S, et al (2014)

Involvement of vision in tool use in crow.

Neuroreport, 25(13):1064-1068.

Birds are capable of dexterous sensory-motor activities such as tool use. Reaching is a crucial component of tool use and is a vision-guided behavior in primates, in which arm movement is monitored online in a stable visual frame. However, vision-guided reaching in primates is enabled by anatomical separation of the head and arm; neck reaching in birds accompanies head movement, which produces unstable vision because the eye necessarily moves with the bill. This anatomical difference raises the question whether tool use in birds involves visuomotor mechanisms that are distinct from those in primates. As the role of vision in avian tool use has been poorly understood, we investigated the role of vision in tool use in the large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos), a nontool user in the wild. Crows were trained to manipulate an L-shaped hook to retrieve food that was otherwise out of reach. After training, an opaque panel was placed on the front window of the platform to block their vision, and the effects on tool use were tested with respect to performance and movement trajectory. Vision blocking caused similar deviation of tool movement trajectories for both near and far targets, as well as far target-specific deviation. This suggests the involvement of vision in tool use by crows, specifically in the premanipulation process for conversion of vision-body coordinates for motor planning and in the process of tool manipulation. This is the first behavioral evidence for the involvement of vision in avian tool use.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2015-01-20

Taylor AH, Cheke LG, Waismeyer A, et al (2014)

Of babies and birds: complex tool behaviours are not sufficient for the evolution of the ability to create a novel causal intervention.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 281(1787):.

Humans are capable of simply observing a correlation between cause and effect, and then producing a novel behavioural pattern in order to recreate the same outcome. However, it is unclear how the ability to create such causal interventions evolved. Here, we show that while 24-month-old children can produce an effective, novel action after observing a correlation, tool-making New Caledonian crows cannot. These results suggest that complex tool behaviours are not sufficient for the evolution of this ability, and that causal interventions can be cognitively and evolutionarily disassociated from other types of causal understanding.

RevDate: 2014-03-10
CmpDate: 2014-10-30

Jacobs IF, Osvath M, Osvath H, et al (2014)

Object caching in corvids: incidence and significance.

Behavioural processes, 102:25-32.

Food caching is a paramount model for studying relations between cognition, brain organisation and ecology in corvids. In contrast, behaviour towards inedible objects is poorly examined and understood. We review the literature on object caching in corvids and other birds, and describe an exploratory study on object caching in ravens, New Caledonian crows and jackdaws. The captive adult birds were presented with an identical set of novel objects adjacent to food. All three species cached objects, which shows the behaviour not to be restricted to juveniles, food cachers, tool-users or individuals deprived of cacheable food. The pattern of object interaction and caching did not mirror the incidence of food caching: the intensely food caching ravens indeed showed highest object caching incidence, but the rarely food caching jackdaws cached objects to similar extent as the moderate food caching New Caledonian crows. Ravens and jackdaws preferred objects with greater sphericity, but New Caledonian crows preferred stick-like objects (similar to tools). We suggest that the observed object caching might have been expressions of exploration or play, and deserves being studied in its own right because of its potential significance for tool-related behaviour and learning, rather than as an over-spill from food-caching research. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: CO3 2013.

RevDate: 2018-05-17
CmpDate: 2014-02-05

Bly RA, Su D, Lendvay TS, et al (2013)

Multiportal robotic access to the anterior cranial fossa: a surgical and engineering feasibility study.

Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 149(6):940-946.

OBJECTIVE: Integration of robotic surgical technology into skull base surgery is limited due to minimum angle requirements between robotic tools (narrow funnel effect), steep angle of approach, and instrumentation size. The objectives of this study were to systematically analyze surgical approach portals using a computer model, determine optimal approaches, and assess feasibility of the derived approaches on robotic surgical systems.

STUDY DESIGN: Computer analysis on 10 computed tomography scans was performed to determine approach trajectories, angles between robotic tools, and distances to specified skull base target locations for transorbital and transnasal surgical approach portals.

SETTING: Dry laboratory and cadaver laboratory.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The optimal combinations were tested on the da Vinci and Raven robotic systems.

RESULTS: Multiportal analyses showed the angles between 2 robotic tools were 14.7, 28.3, and 52.0 degrees in the cases of 2 transnasal portals, combined transnasal and medial orbit portals, and bilateral superior orbit portals, respectively, approaching a prechiasmatic target. The addition of medial and superior transorbital portals improved the skull base trajectory angles 21 and 27 degrees, respectively. Two robotic tools required an angle of at least 20 degrees between them to function effectively at skull base targets.

CONCLUSION: Technical feasibility of robotic transorbital and transnasal approaches to access sella and parasellar target locations was demonstrated. This technique addresses the 2 major drawbacks of (1) the narrow funnel effect generated from portals in close proximity and (2) the steep angle of approach to the skull base, as observed in previous studies analyzing transoral, transcervical, transmaxillary, and transhyoid portals.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2014-07-01

Gowlett JA (2013)

Elongation as a factor in artefacts of humans and other animals: an Acheulean example in comparative context.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 368(1630):20130114 pii:rstb.2013.0114.

Elongation is a commonly found feature in artefacts made and used by humans and other animals and can be analysed in comparative study. Whether made for use in hand or beak, the artefacts have some common properties of length, breadth, thickness and balance point, and elongation can be studied as a factor relating to construction or use of a long axis. In human artefacts, elongation can be traced through the archaeological record, for example in stone blades of the Upper Palaeolithic (traditionally regarded as more sophisticated than earlier artefacts), and in earlier blades of the Middle Palaeolithic. It is now recognized that elongation extends to earlier Palaeolithic artefacts, being found in the repertoire of both Neanderthals and more archaic humans. Artefacts used by non-human animals, including chimpanzees, capuchin monkeys and New Caledonian crows show selection for diameter and length, and consistent interventions of modification. Both chimpanzees and capuchins trim side branches from stems, and appropriate lengths of stave are selected or cut. In human artefacts, occasional organic finds show elongation back to about 0.5 million years. A record of elongation achieved in stone tools survives to at least 1.75 Ma (million years ago) in the Acheulean tradition. Throughout this tradition, some Acheulean handaxes are highly elongated, usually found with others that are less elongated. Finds from the million-year-old site of Kilombe and Kenya are given as an example. These findings argue that the elongation need not be integral to a design, but that artefacts may be the outcome of adjustments to individual variables. Such individual adjustments are seen in animal artefacts. In the case of a handaxe, the maker must balance the adjustments to achieve a satisfactory outcome in the artefact as a whole. It is argued that the need to make decisions about individual variables within multivariate objects provides an essential continuity across artefacts made by different species.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2014-07-01

McGrew WC (2013)

Is primate tool use special? Chimpanzee and New Caledonian crow compared.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 368(1630):20120422 pii:rstb.2012.0422.

The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) is well-known in both nature and captivity as an impressive maker and user of tools, but recently the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides) has been championed as being equivalent or superior to the ape in elementary technology. I systematically compare the two taxa, going beyond simple presence/absence scoring of tool-using and -making types, on four more precise aspects of material culture: (i) types of associative technology (tools used in combination); (ii) modes of tool making; (iii) modes of tool use; and (iv) functions of tool use. I emphasize tool use in nature, when performance is habitual or customary, rather than in anecdotal or idiosyncratic. On all four measures, the ape shows more variety than does the corvid, especially in modes and functions that go beyond extractive foraging. However, more sustained field research is required on the crows before this contrast is conclusive.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2014-07-01

Teschke I, Wascher CA, Scriba MF, et al (2013)

Did tool-use evolve with enhanced physical cognitive abilities?.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 368(1630):20120418 pii:rstb.2012.0418.

The use and manufacture of tools have been considered to be cognitively demanding and thus a possible driving factor in the evolution of intelligence. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that enhanced physical cognitive abilities evolved in conjunction with the use of tools, by comparing the performance of naturally tool-using and non-tool-using species in a suite of physical and general learning tasks. We predicted that the habitually tool-using species, New Caledonian crows and Galápagos woodpecker finches, should outperform their non-tool-using relatives, the small tree finches and the carrion crows in a physical problem but not in general learning tasks. We only found a divergence in the predicted direction for corvids. That only one of our comparisons supports the predictions under this hypothesis might be attributable to different complexities of tool-use in the two tool-using species. A critical evaluation is offered of the conceptual and methodological problems inherent in comparative studies on tool-related cognitive abilities.

RevDate: 2017-09-22
CmpDate: 2014-07-01

St Clair JJ, C Rutz (2013)

New Caledonian crows attend to multiple functional properties of complex tools.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 368(1630):20120415 pii:rstb.2012.0415.

The ability to attend to the functional properties of foraging tools should affect energy-intake rates, fitness components and ultimately the evolutionary dynamics of tool-related behaviour. New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides use three distinct tool types for extractive foraging: non-hooked stick tools, hooked stick tools and tools cut from the barbed edges of Pandanus spp. leaves. The latter two types exhibit clear functional polarity, because of (respectively) a single terminal, crow-manufactured hook and natural barbs running along one edge of the leaf strip; in each case, the 'hooks' can only aid prey capture if the tool is oriented correctly by the crow during deployment. A previous experimental study of New Caledonian crows found that subjects paid little attention to the barbs of supplied (wide) pandanus tools, resulting in non-functional tool orientation during foraging. This result is puzzling, given the presumed fitness benefits of consistently orienting tools functionally in the wild. We investigated whether the lack of discrimination with respect to (wide) pandanus tool orientation also applies to hooked stick tools. We experimentally provided subjects with naturalistic replica tools in a range of orientations and found that all subjects used these tools correctly, regardless of how they had been presented. In a companion experiment, we explored the extent to which normally co-occurring tool features (terminal hook, curvature of the tool shaft and stripped bark at the hooked end) inform tool-orientation decisions, by forcing birds to deploy 'unnatural' tools, which exhibited these traits at opposite ends. Our subjects attended to at least two of the three tool features, although, as expected, the location of the hook was of paramount importance. We discuss these results in the context of earlier research and propose avenues for future work.

RevDate: 2013-08-27
CmpDate: 2014-04-11

Striedter GF (2013)

Bird brains and tool use: beyond instrumental conditioning.

Brain, behavior and evolution, 82(1):55-67.

Few displays of complex cognition are as intriguing as nonhuman tool use. Long thought to be unique to humans, evidence for tool use and manufacture has now been gathered in chimpanzees, dolphins, and elephants. Outside of mammals, tool use is most common in birds, especially in corvids and parrots. The present paper reviews the evidence for avian tool use, both in the wild and in laboratory settings. It also places this behavioral evidence in the context of longstanding debates about the kinds of mental processes nonhumans can perform. Descartes argued that animals are unable to think because they are soulless machines, incapable of flexible behavior. Later, as human machines became more sophisticated and psychologists discovered classical and instrumental conditioning, skepticism about animal thinking decreased. However, behaviors that involve more than simple conditioning continued to elicit skepticism, especially among behaviorists. Nonetheless, as reviewed here, strong behavioral data now indicate that tool use in some birds cannot be explained as resulting entirely from instrumental conditioning. The neural substrates of tool use in birds remain unclear, but the available data point mainly to the caudolateral nidopallium, which shares both functional and structural features with the mammalian prefrontal cortex. As more data on the neural mechanisms of complex cognition in birds accrue, skepticism about those mental capacities should continue to wane.

RevDate: 2016-10-19
CmpDate: 2014-06-23

Koura KG, Boivin MJ, Davidson LL, et al (2013)

Usefulness of child development assessments for low-resource settings in francophone Africa.

Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP, 34(7):486-493.

OBJECTIVE: Few tools are available to screen or assess infant's cognitive development, especially in French-speaking Africa. This study evaluated the use of the French translation of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL), and the "Ten Questions" questionnaire (TQ) in 1-year-old children in Benin, a francophone country.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 3 health centers serving a semirural area in Benin. Three hundred fifty-seven children aged 12 months and their mothers were enrolled in 2011. Infant development was assessed at local health centers followed by a home visit to collect information on socioeconomic status, maternal Raven score, maternal depressive symptoms, and mother-child interactions (Home Observation for the Measurement of the Environment [HOME] Inventory), and to administer the TQ.

RESULTS: The infant's gender (female), the HOME, and maternal education were associated with a higher Early Learning Composite score in multivariate analyses (p = .02, p = .004, p = .007, respectively). The HOME and family wealth were also associated with the Gross Motor Scale (p = .03 and p = .03, respectively). Mothers were more likely to report difficulties on the TQ when the child presented lower score on the MSEL. When considering the Gross Motor Scale as the gold standard to define moderate delays, the 2 combined motor-related questions on the TQ showed good sensitivity and specificity (76.5 and 75.7).

CONCLUSION: In a low-resource rural setting in Africa, the TQ effectively identified 3 quarters of 1-year-old infants with delayed development. After this screening, the MSEL may be useful for further assessment as it showed good feasibility and sensitivity to known risk factors for poor child development.

RevDate: 2017-10-06
CmpDate: 2017-10-06

Díaz-Fernández S, Arroyo B, Casas F, et al (2013)

Effect of Game Management on Wild Red-Legged Partridge Abundance.

PloS one, 8(6):e66671 pii:PONE-D-12-37477.

The reduction of game and fish populations has increased investment in management practices. Hunting and fishing managers use several tools to maximize harvest. Managers need to know the impact their management has on wild populations. This issue is especially important to improve management efficacy and biodiversity conservation. We used questionnaires and field bird surveys in 48 hunting estates to assess whether red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa young/adult ratio and summer abundance were related to the intensity of management (provision of supplementary food and water, predator control and releases of farm-bred partridges), harvest intensity or habitat in Central Spain. We hypothesized that partridge abundance would be higher where management practices were applied more intensively. Variation in young/adult ratio among estates was best explained by habitat, year and some management practices. Density of feeders and water points had a positive relationship with this ratio, while the density of partridges released and magpies controlled were negatively related to it. The variables with greatest relative importance were feeders, releases and year. Variations in post-breeding red-legged partridge abundance among estates were best explained by habitat, year, the same management variables that influenced young/adult ratio, and harvest intensity. Harvest intensity was negatively related to partridge abundance. The other management variables had the same type of relationship with abundance as with young/adult ratio, except magpie control. Variables with greatest relative importance were habitat, feeders, water points, releases and harvest intensity. Our study suggests that management had an overall important effect on post-breeding partridge abundance. However, this effect varied among tools, as some had the desired effect (increase in partridge abundance), whereas others did not or even had a negative relationship (such as release of farm-reared birds) and can be thus considered inefficient or even detrimental. We advise reconsidering their use from both ecological and economical points of view.

RevDate: 2015-04-23
CmpDate: 2014-02-07

Young JA, W Jefferies (2013)

Towards the conservation of endangered avian species: a recombinant West Nile Virus vaccine results in increased humoral and cellular immune responses in Japanese Quail (Coturnix japonica).

PloS one, 8(6):e67137 pii:PONE-D-12-33207.

West Nile Virus (WNV) arrived in North America in 1999 and is now endemic. Many families of birds, especially corvids, are highly susceptible to WNV and infection often results in fatality. Avian species susceptible to WNV infection also include endangered species, such as the Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus uropbasianuts) and the Eastern Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus migrans). The virus has been shown to contribute towards the likelihood of their extinction. Although a clear and present threat, there exists no avian WNV vaccine available to combat this lethal menace. As a first step in establishing an avian model for testing candidate WNV vaccines, avian antibody based reagents were assessed for cross-reactivity with Japanese quail (Coturnix japonica) T cell markers CD4 and CD8; the most reactive were found to be the anti-duck CD8 antibody, clone Du-CD8-1, and the anti-chicken/turkey CD4 antibody, clone CT4. These reagents were then used to assess vaccine performance as well as to establish T cell populations in quail, with a novel population of CD4/CD8 double positive T cells being identified in Japanese quail. Concurrently, non-replicating recombinant adenoviruses, expressing either the WNV envelope or NS3 'genes' were constructed and assessed for effectiveness as avian vaccines. Japanese Quail were selected for testing the vaccines, as they provide an avian model that parallels the population diversity of bird species in the wild. Both the level of WNV specific antibodies and the number of T cells in vaccinated birds were increased compared to unvaccinated controls. The results indicate the vaccines to be effective in increasing both humoral and cellular immune responses. These recombinant vaccines therefore may find utility as tools to protect and maintain domestic and wild avian populations. Their implementation may also arrest the progression towards extinction of endangered avian species and reduce the viral reservoir that potentiates infection in humans.

RevDate: 2015-02-19
CmpDate: 2013-05-03

Dymond S, Haselgrove M, A McGregor (2013)

Clever crows or unbalanced birds?.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(5):E336.

RevDate: 2015-02-19
CmpDate: 2013-03-21

Boogert NJ, Arbilly M, Muth F, et al (2013)

Do crows reason about causes or agents? The devil is in the controls.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(4):E273.

RevDate: 2015-02-19
CmpDate: 2013-07-17

Martin-Ordas G, Schumacher L, J Call (2012)

Sequential tool use in great apes.

PloS one, 7(12):e52074.

Sequential tool use is defined as using a tool to obtain another non-food object which subsequently itself will serve as a tool to act upon a further (sub)goal. Previous studies have shown that birds and great apes succeed in such tasks. However, the inclusion of a training phase for each of the sequential steps and the low cost associated with retrieving the longest tools limits the scope of the conclusions. The goal of the experiments presented here was, first to replicate a previous study on sequential tool use conducted on New Caledonian crows and, second, extend this work by increasing the cost of retrieving a tool in order to test tool selectivity of apes. In Experiment 1, we presented chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos with an out-of-reach reward, two tools that were available but too short to reach the food and four out-of-reach tools differing in functionality. Similar to crows, apes spontaneously used up to 3 tools in sequence to get the reward and also showed a strong preference for the longest out-of reach tool independently of the distance of the food. In Experiment 2, we increased the cost of reaching for the longest out-of reach tool. Now apes used up to 5 tools in sequence to get the reward and became more selective in their choice of the longest tool as the costs of its retrieval increased. The findings of the studies presented here contribute to the growing body of comparative research on tool use.

RevDate: 2016-10-18
CmpDate: 2013-05-23

Taylor AH, Knaebe B, RD Gray (2012)

An end to insight? New Caledonian crows can spontaneously solve problems without planning their actions.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 279(1749):4977-4981.

Animals rarely solve problems spontaneously. Some bird species, however, can immediately find a solution to the string-pulling problem. They are able to rapidly gain access to food hung on the end of a long string by repeatedly pulling and then stepping on the string. It is currently unclear whether these spontaneous solutions are produced by insight or by a perceptual-motor feedback loop. Here, we presented New Caledonian crows and humans with a novel horizontal string-pulling task. While the humans succeeded, no individual crow showed a significant preference for the connected string, and all but one failed to gain the food even once. These results clearly show that string pulling in New Caledonian crows is generated not by insight, but by perceptual feedback. Animals can spontaneously solve problems without planning their actions.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2013-02-01

Troscianko J, von Bayern AM, Chappell J, et al (2012)

Extreme binocular vision and a straight bill facilitate tool use in New Caledonian crows.

Nature communications, 3:1110.

Humans are expert tool users, who manipulate objects with dextrous hands and precise visual control. Surprisingly, morphological predispositions, or adaptations, for tool use have rarely been examined in non-human animals. New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides use their bills to craft complex tools from sticks, leaves and other materials, before inserting them into deadwood or vegetation to extract prey. Here we show that tool use in these birds is facilitated by an unusual visual-field topography and bill shape. Their visual field has substantially greater binocular overlap than that of any other bird species investigated to date, including six non-tool-using corvids. Furthermore, their unusually straight bill enables a stable grip on tools, and raises the tool tip into their visual field's binocular sector. These features enable a degree of tool control that would be impossible in other corvids, despite their comparable cognitive abilities. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence for tool-use-related morphological features outside the hominin lineage.

RevDate: 2015-02-23
CmpDate: 2012-12-31

Taylor AH, Miller R, RD Gray (2012)

New Caledonian crows reason about hidden causal agents.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(40):16389-16391.

The ability to make inferences about hidden causal mechanisms underpins scientific and religious thought. It also facilitates the understanding of social interactions and the production of sophisticated tool-using behaviors. However, although animals can reason about the outcomes of accidental interventions, only humans have been shown to make inferences about hidden causal mechanisms. Here, we show that tool-making New Caledonian crows react differently to an observable event when it is caused by a hidden causal agent. Eight crows watched two series of events in which a stick moved. In the first set of events, the crows observed a human enter a hide, a stick move, and the human then leave the hide. In the second, the stick moved without a human entering or exiting the hide. The crows inspected the hide and abandoned probing with a tool for food more often after the second, unexplained series of events. This difference shows that the crows can reason about a hidden causal agent. Comparative studies with the methodology outlined here could aid in elucidating the selective pressures that led to the evolution of this cognitive ability.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2013-03-22

Jønsson KA, Fabre PH, M Irestedt (2012)

Brains, tools, innovation and biogeography in crows and ravens.

BMC evolutionary biology, 12:72 pii:1471-2148-12-72.

BACKGROUND: Crows and ravens (Passeriformes: Corvus) are large-brained birds with enhanced cognitive abilities relative to other birds. They are among the few non-hominid organisms on Earth to be considered intelligent and well-known examples exist of several crow species having evolved innovative strategies and even use of tools in their search for food. The 40 Corvus species have also been successful dispersers and are distributed on most continents and in remote archipelagos.

RESULTS: This study presents the first molecular phylogeny including all species and a number of subspecies within the genus Corvus. We date the phylogeny and determine ancestral areas to investigate historical biogeographical patterns of the crows. Additionally, we use data on brain size and a large database on innovative behaviour and tool use to test whether brain size (i) explains innovative behaviour and success in applying tools when foraging and (ii) has some correlative role in the success of colonization of islands. Our results demonstrate that crows originated in the Palaearctic in the Miocene from where they dispersed to North America and the Caribbean, Africa and Australasia. We find that relative brain size alone does not explain tool use, innovative feeding strategies and dispersal success within crows.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study supports monophyly of the genus Corvus and further demonstrates the direction and timing of colonization from the area of origin in the Palaearctic to other continents and archipelagos. The Caribbean was probably colonized from North America, although some North American ancestor may have gone extinct, and the Pacific was colonized multiple times from Asia and Australia. We did not find a correlation between relative brain size, tool use, innovative feeding strategies and dispersal success. Hence, we propose that all crows and ravens have relatively large brains compared to other birds and thus the potential to be innovative if conditions and circumstances are right.

RevDate: 2018-03-14
CmpDate: 2012-09-19

Abdelkrim J, Hunt GR, Gray RD, et al (2012)

Population genetic structure and colonisation history of the tool-using New Caledonian crow.

PloS one, 7(5):e36608.

New Caledonian crows exhibit considerable variation in tool making between populations. Here, we present the first study of the species' genetic structure over its geographical distribution. We collected feathers from crows on mainland Grande Terre, the inshore island of Toupéti, and the nearby island of Maré where it is believed birds were introduced after European colonisation. We used nine microsatellite markers to establish the genotypes of 136 crows from these islands and classical population genetic tools as well as Approximate Bayesian Computations to explore the distribution of genetic diversity. We found that New Caledonian crows most likely separate into three main distinct clusters: Grande Terre, Toupéti and Maré. Furthermore, Toupéti and Maré crows represent a subset of the genetic diversity observed on Grande Terre, confirming their mainland origin. The genetic data are compatible with a colonisation of Maré taking place after European colonisation around 1900. Importantly, we observed (1) moderate, but significant, genetic differentiation across Grande Terre, and (2) that the degree of differentiation between populations on the mainland increases with geographic distance. These data indicate that despite individual crows' potential ability to disperse over large distances, most gene flow occurs over short distances. The temporal and spatial patterns described provide a basis for further hypothesis testing and investigation of the geographical variation observed in the tool skills of these crows.

RevDate: 2012-11-20
CmpDate: 2013-05-03

Albiach-Serrano A, Bugnyar T, J Call (2012)

Apes (Gorilla gorilla, Pan paniscus, P. troglodytes, Pongo abelii) versus corvids (Corvus corax, C. corone) in a support task: the effect of pattern and functionality.

Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983), 126(4):355-367.

Apes (Gorilla gorilla, Pan paniscus, P. troglodytes, Pong abelii) and corvids (Corvus corax, C. corone) are among the most proficient and flexible tool users in the animal kingdom. Although it has been proposed that this is the result of convergent evolution, little is known about whether this is limited to behavior or also includes the underlying cognitive mechanisms. We compared several species of apes (bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans) and corvids (carrion crows and common ravens) using exactly the same paradigm: a support task with elements from the classical patterned-string tasks. Corvids proved able to solve at least an easy pattern, whereas apes outperformed corvids with respect to the complexity of the patterns solved, the relative number of subjects solving each problem, and the speed to reach criterion. We addressed the question of whether subjects based their choices purely on perceptual cues or on a more abstract understanding of the problem. This was done by using a perceptually very similar but causally different condition where instead of paper strips there were strip shapes painted on a platform. Corvids' performance did not differ between conditions, whereas apes were able to solve the real but not the painted task. This shows that apes were not basing their choices just on spatial or arbitrary perceptual cues. Instead, and unlike corvids, they must have had some causal knowledge of the task.

RevDate: 2017-09-16
CmpDate: 2012-08-29

Rutz C, Ryder TB, RC Fleischer (2012)

Restricted gene flow and fine-scale population structuring in tool using New Caledonian crows.

Die Naturwissenschaften, 99(4):313-320.

New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides are the most prolific avian tool users. It has been suggested that some aspects of their complex tool use behaviour are under the influence of cultural processes, involving the social transmission-and perhaps even progressive refinement-of tool designs. Using microsatellite and mt-haplotype profiling of crows from three distinct habitats (dry forest, farmland and beachside habitat), we show that New Caledonian crow populations can exhibit significant fine-scale genetic structuring. Our finding that some sites of <10 km apart were highly differentiated demonstrates considerable potential for genetic and/or cultural isolation of crow groups. Restricted movement of birds between local populations at such small spatial scales, especially across habitat boundaries, illustrates how specific tool designs could be preserved over time, and how tool technologies of different crow groups could diverge due to drift and local selection pressures. Young New Caledonian crows have an unusually long juvenile dependency period, during which they acquire complex tool-related foraging skills. We suggest that the resulting delayed natal dispersal drives population-divergence patterns in this species. Our work provides essential context for future studies that examine the genetic makeup of crow populations across larger geographic areas, including localities with suspected cultural differences in crow tool technologies.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2014-11-06

Holford ME, McCusker JP, Cheung KH, et al (2012)

A semantic web framework to integrate cancer omics data with biological knowledge.

BMC bioinformatics, 13 Suppl 1:S10 pii:1471-2105-13-S1-S10.

BACKGROUND: The RDF triple provides a simple linguistic means of describing limitless types of information. Triples can be flexibly combined into a unified data source we call a semantic model. Semantic models open new possibilities for the integration of variegated biological data. We use Semantic Web technology to explicate high throughput clinical data in the context of fundamental biological knowledge. We have extended Corvus, a data warehouse which provides a uniform interface to various forms of Omics data, by providing a SPARQL endpoint. With the querying and reasoning tools made possible by the Semantic Web, we were able to explore quantitative semantic models retrieved from Corvus in the light of systematic biological knowledge.

RESULTS: For this paper, we merged semantic models containing genomic, transcriptomic and epigenomic data from melanoma samples with two semantic models of functional data - one containing Gene Ontology (GO) data, the other, regulatory networks constructed from transcription factor binding information. These two semantic models were created in an ad hoc manner but support a common interface for integration with the quantitative semantic models. Such combined semantic models allow us to pose significant translational medicine questions. Here, we study the interplay between a cell's molecular state and its response to anti-cancer therapy by exploring the resistance of cancer cells to Decitabine, a demethylating agent.

CONCLUSIONS: We were able to generate a testable hypothesis to explain how Decitabine fights cancer - namely, that it targets apoptosis-related gene promoters predominantly in Decitabine-sensitive cell lines, thus conveying its cytotoxic effect by activating the apoptosis pathway. Our research provides a framework whereby similar hypotheses can be developed easily.

RevDate: 2017-11-13
CmpDate: 2013-11-15

Silva FJ, KM Silva (2012)

More but not less uncertainty makes adult humans' tool selections more similar to those reported with crows.

Learning & behavior, 40(4):494-506.

In this study, we examined whether adult humans' tool selections in a stick-and-tube problem might resemble previously published results of crows' selections if people had more experience solving the problem or were presented with a more ambiguous problem. In Experiments 1a and 1b, when given multiple opportunities to select a stick from a set of 10 to retrieve a candy located either 8 or 16 cm from the opening of a tube, the participants always selected a stick that was long enough to retrieve the candy; however, they did not generally select either the stick whose length matched the object's distance or the longest stick in the set-two outcomes reported in studies with crows. In Experiment 2, participants who were allowed only a brief period of time to study the problem selected a longer stick than did participants allowed unlimited time to do the same. However, only when the candy's distance was 16 cm did these people reliably select the longest stick in the set. It seems that increasing, but not decreasing, people's uncertainty about a problem can make humans' tool selections more similar to those reported with crows.

RevDate: 2012-01-31
CmpDate: 2012-06-15

Rutz C, JJ St Clair (2012)

The evolutionary origins and ecological context of tool use in New Caledonian crows.

Behavioural processes, 89(2):153-165.

New Caledonian (NC) crows Corvus moneduloides are the most prolific avian tool users. In the wild, they use at least three distinct tool types to extract invertebrate prey from deadwood and vegetation, with some of their tools requiring complex manufacture, modification and/or deployment. Experiments with captive-bred, hand-raised NC crows have demonstrated that the species has a strong genetic predisposition for basic tool use and manufacture, suggesting that this behaviour is an evolved adaptation. This view is supported by recent stable-isotope analyses of the diets of wild crows, which revealed that tool use provides access to highly profitable hidden prey, with preliminary data indicating that parents preferentially feed their offspring with tool-derived food. Building on this work, our review examines the possible evolutionary origins of these birds' remarkable tool-use behaviour. Whilst robust comparative analyses are impossible, given the phylogenetic rarity of animal tool use, our examination of a wide range of circumstantial evidence enables a first attempt at reconstructing a plausible evolutionary scenario. We suggest that a common ancestor of NC crows, originating from a (probably) non-tool-using South-East Asian or Australasian crow population, colonised New Caledonia after its last emersion several million years ago. The presence of profitable but out-of-reach food, in combination with a lack of direct competition for these resources, resulted in a vacant woodpecker-like niche. Crows may have possessed certain behavioural and/or morphological features upon their arrival that predisposed them to express tool-use rather than specialised prey-excavation behaviour, although it is possible that woodpecker-like foraging preceded tool use. Low levels of predation risk may have further facilitated tool-use behaviour, by allowing greater expenditure of time and energy on object interaction and exploration, as well as the evolution of a 'slow' life-history, in which prolonged juvenile development enables acquisition of complex behaviours. Intriguingly, humans may well have influenced the evolution of at least some of the species' tool-oriented behaviours, via their possible introduction of candlenut trees together with the beetle larvae that infest them. Research on NC crows' tool-use behaviour in its full ecological context is still in its infancy, and we expect that, as more evidence accumulates, some of our assumptions and predictions will be proved wrong. However, it is clear from our analysis of existing work, and the development of some original ideas, that the unusual evolutionary trajectory of NC crows is probably the consequence of an intricate constellation of interplaying factors.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2012-08-27

Taylor AH, Elliffe DM, Hunt GR, et al (2011)

New Caledonian crows learn the functional properties of novel tool types.

PloS one, 6(12):e26887.

New Caledonian crows were presented with Bird and Emery's (2009a) Aesop's fable paradigm, which requires stones to be dropped into a water-filled tube to bring floating food within reach. The crows did not spontaneously use stones as tools, but quickly learned to do so, and to choose objects and materials with functional properties. Some crows discarded both inefficient and non-functional objects before observing their effects on the water level. Interestingly, the crows did not learn to discriminate between functional and non-functional objects and materials when there was an arbitrary, rather than causal, link between object and reward. This finding suggests that the crows' performances were not based on associative learning alone. That is, learning was not guided solely by the covariation rate between stimuli and outcomes or the conditioned reinforcement properties acquired by functional objects. Our results, therefore, show that New Caledonian crows can process causal information not only when it is linked to sticks and stick-like tools but also when it concerns the functional properties of novel types of tool.

RevDate: 2011-10-05
CmpDate: 2012-12-17

Francis GS (2011)

Neurohormonal control of heart failure.

Cleveland Clinic journal of medicine, 78 Suppl 1:S75-9.

For nearly three decades, starting in the early 1970s, the cardiology research laboratories at the University of Minnesota served as the focal point for the discovery and implementation of much of the information we now apply to the management of heart failure. Director Jay Cohn, building on his expertise in hypertension and hemodynamics, led many creative and committed investigators in the exploration of the mechanisms responsible for increased sensitivity to afterload in heart failure. The neurohormonal hypothesis of heart failure led to the development of several pharmacologic tools, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, β-adrenergic blockers, and, later, angiotensin-receptor blockers. By the late 1990s, it was understood that neurohormonal antagonists could prevent the progression of left ventricular remodeling and favorably influence the natural history of heart failure. Neurohormonal blockers are now considered standard therapy. Issues remain to be addressed, including early identification and treatment of patients at risk.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2012-07-10

Taylor AH, Hunt GR, RD Gray (2012)

Context-dependent tool use in New Caledonian crows.

Biology letters, 8(2):205-207.

Humans and chimpanzees both exhibit context-dependent tool use. That is, both species choose to use tools when food is within reach, but the context is potentially hazardous. Here, we show that New Caledonian crows used tools more frequently when food was positioned next to a novel model snake than when food was positioned next to a novel teddy bear or a familiar food bowl. However, the crows showed no significant difference in their neophobic reactions towards the teddy bear and the model snake. Therefore, the crows used tools more in response to a risky object resembling a natural predator than to a less-threatening object that provoked a comparable level of neophobia. These results show that New Caledonian crows, like humans and chimpanzees, are capable of context-dependent tool use.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2011-10-14

Auersperg AM, von Bayern AM, Gajdon GK, et al (2011)

Flexibility in problem solving and tool use of kea and New Caledonian crows in a multi access box paradigm.

PloS one, 6(6):e20231.

Parrots and corvids show outstanding innovative and flexible behaviour. In particular, kea and New Caledonian crows are often singled out as being exceptionally sophisticated in physical cognition, so that comparing them in this respect is particularly interesting. However, comparing cognitive mechanisms among species requires consideration of non-cognitive behavioural propensities and morphological characteristics evolved from different ancestry and adapted to fit different ecological niches. We used a novel experimental approach based on a Multi-Access-Box (MAB). Food could be extracted by four different techniques, two of them involving tools. Initially all four options were available to the subjects. Once they reached criterion for mastering one option, this task was blocked, until the subjects became proficient in another solution. The exploratory behaviour differed considerably. Only one (of six) kea and one (of five) NCC mastered all four options, including a first report of innovative stick tool use in kea. The crows were more efficient in using the stick tool, the kea the ball tool. The kea were haptically more explorative than the NCC, discovered two or three solutions within the first ten trials (against a mean of 0.75 discoveries by the crows) and switched more quickly to new solutions when the previous one was blocked. Differences in exploration technique, neophobia and object manipulation are likely to explain differential performance across the set of tasks. Our study further underlines the need to use a diversity of tasks when comparing cognitive traits between members of different species. Extension of a similar method to other taxa could help developing a comparative cognition research program.

RevDate: 2017-09-22

Kenward B, Schloegl C, Rutz C, et al (2011)

On the evolutionary and ontogenetic origins of tool-oriented behaviour in New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides).

Biological journal of the Linnean Society. Linnean Society of London, 102(4):870-877.

New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) are prolific tool users in captivity and in the wild, and have an inherited predisposition to express tool-oriented behaviours. To further understand the evolution and development of tool use, we compared the development of object manipulation in New Caledonian crows and common ravens (Corvus corax), which do not routinely use tools. We found striking qualitative similarities in the ontogeny of tool-oriented behaviour in New Caledonian crows and food-caching behaviour in ravens. Given that the common ancestor of New Caledonian crows and ravens was almost certainly a caching species, we therefore propose that the basic action patterns for tool use in New Caledonian crows may have their evolutionary origins in caching behaviour. Noncombinatorial object manipulations had similar frequencies in the two species. However, frequencies of object combinations that are precursors to functional behaviour increased in New Caledonian crows and decreased in ravens throughout the study period, ending 6 weeks post-fledging. These quantitative observations are consistent with the hypothesis that New Caledonian crows develop tool-oriented behaviour because of an increased motivation to perform object combinations that facilitate the necessary learning.

RevDate: 2017-09-16
CmpDate: 2011-10-12

Yosef R, Kabesa S, N Yosef (2011)

Set a thief to catch a thief: brown-necked raven (Corvus ruficollis) cooperatively kleptoparasitize Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus).

Die Naturwissenschaften, 98(5):443-446.

Our study describes how brown-necked ravens (Corvus ruficollis) are able to take advantage of an ordinarily inaccessible, high-quality food source by relying upon their innovative and manipulative thinking capabilities to exploit methods used by Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) to overcome the problem. In five observed interactions, the ravens were first seen in the vicinity of an abandoned clutch of ostrich eggs (Struthio camelus). The area was frequented by a pair of Egyptian vultures that bred on the cliffs across the road from the nature reserve. The Egyptian vulture exhibits tool use in birds, and is able to crack the hard shells of ostrich eggs by lifting a rock in the beak and pounding at the egg till it breaks open or cracks. If the egg is only cracked, the vulture inserts its narrow bill into the fissure and widens it by opening the mandibles. Pieces of eggshell are removed from around the crack in order to further open the egg. This is the point at which the pair of ravens attacked the vulture and harassed it till it abandoned the egg and left the area. The ravens then jointly enjoyed the contents of the egg which was otherwise inaccessible to them because of the strong egg shell.

RevDate: 2011-01-24
CmpDate: 2011-04-07

Bagotskaia MS, Smirnova AA, ZA Zorina (2010)

[Corvidae are able to understand the logical structure in string-pulling tasks].

Zhurnal vysshei nervnoi deiatelnosti imeni I P Pavlova, 60(5):543-551.

The ability of the Corvidae to understand the logical structure in string-pulling tasks was studied in a set of experiments with varied position of strings. It was demonstrated that some hooded crows (Corvus cornix L.) and common ravens (Corvus corax L.) successfully completed the tasks where the strings were not intersected but placed so that the bait was positioned opposite the forepart of the empty string. Hooded crows also solved the task where the baits were attached to both strings, but one of the strings was disrupted. The task with two intersected strings where the bait was positioned opposite the forepart of the empty string was not solved by the crows. The results suggest the ability of both examined species to grasp the logical structure of such kind of tasks.

RevDate: 2014-03-25
CmpDate: 2011-08-16

Cheke LG, Bird CD, NS Clayton (2011)

Tool-use and instrumental learning in the Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius).

Animal cognition, 14(3):441-455.

Recent research with Rooks has demonstrated impressive tool-using abilities in captivity despite this species' classification as a non-tool-user in the wild. Here, we explored whether another non-tool-using corvid, the Eurasian Jay, would be capable of similar feats and investigated the relative contributions of causal knowledge and instrumental conditioning to the birds' performance on the tasks. Five jays were tested on a variety of tasks involving water displacement. Two birds reliably interacted with the apparatuses. In these tasks, both birds showed a preference for inserting stones into a tube containing liquid over a tube containing a solid or a baited 'empty' tube and also for inserting sinkable items over non-sinkable items into a tube of water. To investigate the contribution of instrumental conditioning, subjects were then tested on a series of tasks in which different cues were made available. It was found that, in the absence of any apparent causal cues, these birds showed a clear preference for the rewarded tube when the food incrementally approached with every stone insertion, but not when it simply "appeared" after the correct number of stone insertions. However, it was found that subjects did not prefer to insert stones into a tube rewarded by the incremental approach of food if the available causal cues violated the expectations created by existing causal knowledge (i.e. were counter-intuitive). An analysis of the proportion of correct and incorrect stone insertions made in each trial across tasks offering different types of information revealed that subjects were substantially more successful in experiments in which causal cues were available, but that rate of learning was comparable in all experiments. We suggest that these results indicate that Eurasian jays use the incremental approach of the food reward as a conditioned reinforcer allowing them to solve tasks involving raising the water level and that this learning is facilitated by the presence of causal cues.

RevDate: 2011-04-18
CmpDate: 2011-08-16

Wimpenny JH, Weir AA, A Kacelnik (2011)

New Caledonian crows use tools for non-foraging activities.

Animal cognition, 14(3):459-464.

Tool use is of great interest for cognitive research, largely because it can be particularly revealing about the underlying information processing mechanisms. Tool use that is inflexible or requires extensive experience to change, and that is only addressed towards specific targets such as food, is not likely to reflect unusual or particularly complex cognition. On the contrary, if tools are employed flexibly and for a variety of innovative purposes, then conventional combinations of inherited predispositions and associative learning are challenged and interesting questions emerge. Since New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) are especially adept at using and making tools for food extraction, we decided to examine their ability to generalise this to other contexts. We recorded how five pairs of New Caledonian crows interacted with novel objects that were not associated with food. We observed eight occasions in which the first contact with the novel object was mediated by a tool, suggesting that the function of the tool was for exploration. This is the first report of non-foraging tool use in New Caledonian crows, and it implies that the cognitive operations controlling tool-oriented behaviour in this species are more general than previously thought.

RevDate: 2017-11-16
CmpDate: 2010-10-04

Rutz C, Bluff LA, Reed N, et al (2010)

The ecological significance of tool use in New Caledonian crows.

Science (New York, N.Y.), 329(5998):1523-1526.

Tool use is so rare in the animal kingdom that its evolutionary origins cannot be traced with comparative analyses. Valuable insights can be gained from investigating the ecological context and adaptive significance of tool use under contemporary conditions, but obtaining robust observational data is challenging. We assayed individual-level tool-use dependence in wild New Caledonian crows by analyzing stable isotope profiles of the birds' feathers, blood, and putative food sources. Bayesian diet-mixing models revealed that a substantial amount of the crows' protein and lipid intake comes from prey obtained with stick tools--wood-boring beetle larvae. Our calculations provide estimates of larva-intake rates and show that just a few larvae can satisfy a crow's daily energy requirements, highlighting the substantial rewards available to competent tool users.

RevDate: 2010-09-27
CmpDate: 2011-01-26

Endler JA, Endler LC, NR Doerr (2010)

Great bowerbirds create theaters with forced perspective when seen by their audience.

Current biology : CB, 20(18):1679-1684.

Birds in the infraorder Corvida [1] (ravens, jays, bowerbirds) are renowned for their cognitive abilities [2-4], which include advanced problem solving with spatial inference [4-8], tool use and complex constructions [7-10], and bowerbird cognitive ability is associated with mating success [11]. Great bowerbird males construct bowers with a long avenue from within which females view the male displaying over his bower court [10]. This predictable audience viewpoint is a prerequisite for forced (altered) visual perspective [12-14]. Males make courts with gray and white objects that increase in size with distance from the avenue entrance. This gradient creates forced visual perspective for the audience; court object visual angles subtended on the female viewer's eye are more uniform than if the objects were placed at random. Forced perspective can yield false perception of size and distance [12, 15]. After experimental reversal of their size-distance gradient, males recovered their gradients within 3 days, and there was little difference from the original after 2 wks. Variation among males in their forced-perspective quality as seen by their female audience indicates that visual perspective is available for use in mate choice, perhaps as an indicator of cognitive ability. Regardless of function, the creation and maintenance of forced visual perspective is clearly important to great bowerbirds and suggests the possibility of a previously unknown dimension of bird cognition.

RevDate: 2011-01-03
CmpDate: 2011-03-14

Liedtke J, Werdenich D, Gajdon GK, et al (2011)

Big brains are not enough: performance of three parrot species in the trap-tube paradigm.

Animal cognition, 14(1):143-149.

The trap-tube task has become a benchmark test for investigating physical causality in vertebrates. In this task, subjects have to retrieve food out of a horizontal tube using a tool and avoiding a trap hole in the tube. Great apes and corvids succeeded in this task. Parrots with relative brain volumes comparable to those of corvids and primates also demonstrate high cognitive abilities. We therefore tested macaws, a cockatoo, and keas on the trap-tube paradigm. All nine parrots failed to solve the task. In a simplified task, trap tubes with a slot inserted along the top were offered. The slot allowed the birds to move the reward directly with their bills. All but one individual solved this task by lifting the food over the trap. However, the parrots failed again when they were prevented from lifting the reward, although they anticipated that food will be lost when moved into the trap. We do not think that the demanding use of an external object is the main reason for the parrots' failure. Moreover, we suppose these parrots fail to consider the trap's position in the beginning of a trial and were not able to stop their behaviour and move the reward in the trap's opposite direction.

RevDate: 2017-10-14
CmpDate: 2011-11-07

Fernández-Juricic E, O'Rourke C, T Pitlik (2010)

Visual coverage and scanning behavior in two corvid species: American crow and Western scrub jay.

Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology, 196(12):879-888.

Inter-specific differences in the configuration of avian visual fields and degree of eye/head movements have been associated with foraging and anti-predator behaviors. Our goal was to study visual fields, eye movements, and head movements in two species of corvids: American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) and Western scrub jay (Aphelocoma californica). American crows had wider binocular overlap, longer vertical binocular fields, narrower blind areas, and higher amplitude of eye movement than Western scrub jays. American crows can converge their eyes and see their own bill tip, which may facilitate using different foraging techniques (e.g., pecking, probing) and manufacturing and handing rudimentary tools. Western scrub jays had a higher head movement rate than American crows while on the ground, and the opposite between-species difference was found when individuals were perching. Faster head movements may enhance the ability to scan the environment, which may be related to a higher perceived risk of predation of Western scrub jays when on the ground, and American crows when perching. The visual field configuration of these species appears influenced mostly by foraging techniques while their scaning behavior, by predation risk.

RevDate: 2010-08-26
CmpDate: 2010-11-02

Bagotskaia MS, Smirnova AA, ZA Zorina (2010)

[Comparative study of the ability to solve a string-pulling task in Corvidae].

Zhurnal vysshei nervnoi deiatelnosti imeni I P Pavlova, 60(3):321-329.

The ability of hooded crows (Corvus cornix L.) and common ravens (Corvus corax L.) to pull up a bait suspended from a horizontal perch by a string was tested. It was shown that some birds of both species successfully solved the string-pulling task. Considerable inter-individual and inter-species differences in task performance are discussed.

RevDate: 2017-11-11
CmpDate: 2010-09-23

Holzhaider JC, Hunt GR, RD Gray (2010)

Social learning in New Caledonian crows.

Learning & behavior, 38(3):206-219.

New Caledonian (NC) crows are the most sophisticated tool manufacturers other than humans. The diversification and geographical distribution of their three Pandanus tool designs that differ in complexity, as well as the lack of ecological correlates, suggest that cumulative technological change has taken place. To investigate the possibility that high-fidelity social transmission mediated this putative ratchet-like process, we studied the ontogeny of Pandanus tool manufacture and social organization in free-living NC crows. We found that juvenile crows took more than 1 year to reach adult proficiency in their Pandanus tool skills. Although trial-and-error learning is clearly important, juveniles have ample opportunity to learn about Pandanus tool manufacture by both observing their parents and interacting with artifactual material. The crows' social system seems likely to promote the faithful social transmission of local tool designs by both favoring the vertical transmission of tool information and minimizing horizontal transmission. We suggest that NC crows develop their Pandanus tool skills in a highly scaffolded learning environment that facilitates the cumulative technological evolution of tool designs.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2010-12-02

Taylor AH, Elliffe D, Hunt GR, et al (2010)

Complex cognition and behavioural innovation in New Caledonian crows.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 277(1694):2637-2643.

Apes, corvids and parrots all show high rates of behavioural innovation in the wild. However, it is unclear whether this innovative behaviour is underpinned by cognition more complex than simple learning mechanisms. To investigate this question we presented New Caledonian crows with a novel three-stage metatool problem. The task involved three distinct stages: (i) obtaining a short stick by pulling up a string, (ii) using the short stick as a metatool to extract a long stick from a toolbox, and finally (iii) using the long stick to extract food from a hole. Crows with previous experience of the behaviours in stages 1-3 linked them into a novel sequence to solve the problem on the first trial. Crows with experience of only using string and tools to access food also successfully solved the problem. This innovative use of established behaviours in novel contexts was not based on resurgence, chaining and conditional reinforcement. Instead, the performance was consistent with the transfer of an abstract, causal rule: 'out-of-reach objects can be accessed using a tool'. This suggests that high innovation rates in the wild may reflect complex cognitive abilities that supplement basic learning mechanisms.

RevDate: 2016-12-29
CmpDate: 2010-11-08

Danso KA, HS Opare-Addo (2010)

Challenges associated with hypertensive disease during pregnancy in low-income countries.

International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 110(1):78-81.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the challenges associated with the diagnosis, management, and prevention of hypertensive disease during pregnancy in low-income countries, following the success of the Magpie Trial.

METHODS: Descriptive review of the literature from 1990 to 2009 on the diagnosis, management, and prevention of hypertensive disease in pregnancy.

RESULTS: In the absence of credible measures to predict and prevent hypertension in pregnancy, diagnosis and treatment remain the only viable options, although they are still associated with important challenges in low-income countries. Despite the presence of high-quality evidence that magnesium sulfate is safe and effective at preventing and treating eclampsia, its use is extremely limited in many low-income countries.

CONCLUSION: There is a need for cheap and reliable tools with which to address the diagnostic, preventive, and management challenges associated with hypertensive disease during pregnancy in low-income countries. It is recommended that such countries incorporate magnesium sulfate protocols into their national health and/or practice policies.

RevDate: 2015-01-20
CmpDate: 2010-06-15

Mehlhorn J, Hunt GR, Gray RD, et al (2010)

Tool-making New Caledonian crows have large associative brain areas.

Brain, behavior and evolution, 75(1):63-70.

Animals with a high rate of innovative and associative-based behavior usually have large brains. New Caledonian (NC) crows stand out due to their tool manufacture, their generalized problem-solving abilities and an extremely high degree of encephalization. It is generally assumed that this increased brain size is due to the ability to process, associate and memorize diverse stimuli, thereby enhancing the propensity to invent new and complex behaviors in adaptive ways. However, this premise lacks firm empirical support since encephalization could also result from an increase of only perceptual and/or motor areas. Here, we compared the brain structures of NC crows with those of carrion crows, jays and sparrows. The brains of NC crows were characterized by a relatively large mesopallium, striatopallidal complex, septum and tegmentum. These structures mostly deal with association and motor-learning. This supports the hypothesis that the evolution of innovative or complex behavior requires a brain composition that increases the ability to associate and memorize diverse stimuli in order to execute complex motor output. Since apes show a similar correlation of cerebral growth and cognitive abilities, the evolution of advanced cognitive skills appears to have evolved independently in birds and mammals but with a similar neural orchestration.

RevDate: 2010-03-01
CmpDate: 2010-03-23

Halayem S, Bouden A, Amado I, et al (2009)

[Adaptation of a soft-signs scale to children with autism spectrum disorders].

La Tunisie medicale, 87(10):651-655.

BACKGROUND: Neurological soft signs (NSS) are endophenotypic markers of schizophrenia, and their high prevalence in pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) support the existence of the spectrum of psychoses. These NSS were evaluated by standardized scales which were not adapted to children with PDD.

AIMS: This study aimed to propose an adaptation for children of a scale of NSS already used in adults.

METHODS: 21 children with PDD (11 with autistic disorder, 10 with PDD not otherwise specified) aged 6-12 years and 21 controls matched on age, sex, and cognitive level were included. Evaluating tools were NSS scale of Krebs et al. adapted after a pilot-study with the accordance of its author; the Progressive Matrices of Raven for intellectual level, and ADI-R to confirm diagnosis.

RESULTS: Patients were significantly more impaired on total score (p=0,001), motor coordination (p=0,008), motor integration (p=0,000), and sensory integration (p=0,001). There were no difference between patients and controls on abnormal movements and quality of lateralization.

CONCLUSION: This adaptation of Krebs et al. scale seems to be a good tool for evaluating NSS in children, especially in those with PDD. A further validation study, including a larger sample is necessary.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2010-09-30

Taylor AH, Medina FS, Holzhaider JC, et al (2010)

An investigation into the cognition behind spontaneous string pulling in New Caledonian crows.

PloS one, 5(2):e9345.

The ability of some bird species to pull up meat hung on a string is a famous example of spontaneous animal problem solving. The "insight" hypothesis claims that this complex behaviour is based on cognitive abilities such as mental scenario building and imagination. An operant conditioning account, in contrast, would claim that this spontaneity is due to each action in string pulling being reinforced by the meat moving closer and remaining closer to the bird on the perch. We presented experienced and naïve New Caledonian crows with a novel, visually restricted string-pulling problem that reduced the quality of visual feedback during string pulling. Experienced crows solved this problem with reduced efficiency and increased errors compared to their performance in standard string pulling. Naïve crows either failed or solved the problem by trial and error learning. However, when visual feedback was available via a mirror mounted next to the apparatus, two naïve crows were able to perform at the same level as the experienced group. Our results raise the possibility that spontaneous string pulling in New Caledonian crows may not be based on insight but on operant conditioning mediated by a perceptual-motor feedback cycle.

RevDate: 2017-02-20
CmpDate: 2010-05-07

Grodzinski U, NS Clayton (2010)

Problems faced by food-caching corvids and the evolution of cognitive solutions.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 365(1542):977-987.

The scatter hoarding of food, or caching, is a widespread and well-studied behaviour. Recent experiments with caching corvids have provided evidence for episodic-like memory, future planning and possibly mental attribution, all cognitive abilities that were thought to be unique to humans. In addition to the complexity of making flexible, informed decisions about caching and recovering, this behaviour is underpinned by a motivationally controlled compulsion to cache. In this review, we shall first discuss the compulsive side of caching both during ontogeny and in the caching behaviour of adult corvids. We then consider some of the problems that these birds face and review the evidence for the cognitive abilities they use to solve them. Thus, the emergence of episodic-like memory is viewed as a solution for coping with food perishability, while the various cache-protection and pilfering strategies may be sophisticated tools to deprive competitors of information, either by reducing the quality of information they can gather, or invalidating the information they already have. Finally, we shall examine whether such future-oriented behaviour involves future planning and ask why this and other cognitive abilities might have evolved in corvids.

RevDate: 2017-11-12
CmpDate: 2010-03-26

Silva FJ, KM Silva (2010)

How do adult humans compare with New Caledonian crows in tool selectivity?.

Learning & behavior, 38(1):87-95.

We examined humans' tool selections on stick-and-tube tasks similar to those used to study crows' and other avian species' physical cognition. In Experiment 1, the participants selected a stick from a set of 10 to retrieve a candy placed in a horizontal tube. Although the stick that was selected depended on the distance to the candy, the participants generally did not select a stick whose length was the same as the candy's distance from the open end of the tube nor did they select the longest stick in the set-two strategies that have been reported in crows. In Experiments 2 and 3, we used variations of the stick-and-tube task to determine what factors in addition to the candy's distance influenced the participants' selections. The results showed that tool selection depended on the stimulus context (i.e., the number and lengths of the alternative tools).

RevDate: 2017-11-16
CmpDate: 2010-08-03

Bluff LA, Troscianko J, Weir AA, et al (2010)

Tool use by wild New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides at natural foraging sites.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 277(1686):1377-1385.

New Caledonian crows Corvus moneduloides use tools made from sticks or leaf stems to 'fish' woodboring beetle larvae from their burrows in decaying wood. Previous research on this behaviour has been confined to baited sites, leaving its ecological context and significance virtually unexplored. To obtain detailed observations of natural, undisturbed tool use, we deployed motion-triggered video cameras at seven larva-fishing sites. From 1797 camera hours of surveillance over 111 days, we recorded 317 site visits by at least 14 individual crows. Tool use was observed during 150 site visits. Our video footage revealed notable variation in foraging success among identifiable crows. Two nutritionally independent, immature crows spent considerable time using tools, but were much less successful than local adults, highlighting the potential role of individual and social learning in the acquisition of tool-use proficiency. During systematic surveys of larva-fishing sites, we collected 193 tools that crows had left inserted in larva burrows. Comparing these tools with the holes in which they were found, and with raw materials available around logs, provides evidence for tool selectivity by New Caledonian crows under natural conditions. Taken together, these two complementary lines of investigation provide, to our knowledge, the first quantitative description of larva fishing by wild crows in its full ecological context.

RevDate: 2014-08-21
CmpDate: 2010-03-25

Lum MJ, Rosen J, King H, et al (2009)

Teleoperation in surgical robotics--network latency effects on surgical performance.

Conference proceedings : ... Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Annual Conference, 2009:6860-6863.

A teleoperated surgical robotic system allows surgical procedures to be conducted across long distances while utilizing wired and wireless communication with a wide spectrum of performance that may affect the outcome. An open architecture portable surgical robotic system (Raven) was developed for both open and minimally invasive surgery. The system has been the subject of an intensive telesurgical experimental protocol aimed at exploring the boundaries of the system and surgeon performance during a series of field experiments in extreme environments (desert and underwater) teleportation between US, Europe, and Japan as well as lab experiments under synthetic fixed time delay. One standard task (block transfer emulating tissue manipulation) of the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) training kit was used for the experimental protocol. Network characterization indicated a typical time delay in the range of 16-172 ms in field experiments. The results of the lab experiments showed that the completion time of the task as well as the length of the tool tip trajectory significantly increased (alpha< 0.02) as time delay increased in the range of 0-0.5 sec increased. For teleoperation with a time delay of 0.25s and 0.5s the task completion time was lengthened by a factor of 1.45 and 2.04 with respect to no time delay, whereas the length of the tools' trajectory was increased by a factor of 1.28 and 1.53 with respect to no time delay. There were no statistical differences between experienced surgeons and non-surgeons in the number of errors (block drooping) as well as the completion time and the tool tip path length at different time delays.

RevDate: 2009-12-01
CmpDate: 2010-03-01

Shettleworth SJ (2009)

Animal cognition: Deconstructing avian insight.

Current biology : CB, 19(22):R1039-40.

A new study of how experience contributes to apparently insightful problem-solving by tool-using crows has shown that operating an apparatus with the beak or a stick promotes novel use of stones on the same apparatus.

RevDate: 2017-09-22
CmpDate: 2010-03-01

von Bayern AM, Heathcote RJ, Rutz C, et al (2009)

The role of experience in problem solving and innovative tool use in crows.

Current biology : CB, 19(22):1965-1968.

Creative problem solving and innovative tool use in animals are often seen as indicators of advanced intelligence because they seem to imply causal reasoning abilities [1]. However, complex behavior can also arise from relatively simple mechanisms [2, 3], and the cognitive operations underlying seemingly "insightful" behavior are rarely examined [4]. By controlling and varying prior experience, it is possible to determine the minimum information animals require to solve a given problem [5]. We investigated how pretesting experience affects the performance of New Caledonian crows (Corvus moneduloides) when facing a novel problem. The task (developed by Bird and Emery [6]) required dropping stones into a vertical tube to collapse an out-of-reach platform in a transparent box and release a food reward. After establishing that the birds had no preexisting tendency to drop stones into holes, subjects were assigned to two experimental groups that were given different kinds of experience with the affordances of the apparatus. Crows that had learned about the mechanism (collapsibility) of the platform without the use of stones passed the task, just like the subjects that had previously been trained to drop stones. This demonstrates that successful innovation was also possible after acquaintance with just the functional properties of the task.

RevDate: 2016-10-19
CmpDate: 2010-03-01

Bird CD, NJ Emery (2010)

Rooks perceive support relations similar to six-month-old babies.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 277(1678):147-151.

Some corvids have demonstrated cognitive abilities that rival or exceed those of the great apes; for example, tool use in New Caledonian crows, and social cognition, episodic-like memory and future planning in Western scrub-jays. Rooks appear to be able to solve novel tasks through causal reasoning rather than simple trial-and-error learning. Animals with certain expectations about how objects interact would be able to narrow the field of candidate causes substantially, because some causes are simply 'impossible'. Here we present evidence that rooks hold such expectations and appear to possess perceptual understanding of support relations similar to that demonstrated by human babies, which is more comprehensive than that of chimpanzees.

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RJR Experience and Expertise

Researcher

Robbins holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the life sciences. He served as a tenured faculty member in the Zoology and Biological Science departments at Michigan State University. He is currently exploring the intersection between genomics, microbial ecology, and biodiversity — an area that promises to transform our understanding of the biosphere.

Educator

Robbins has extensive experience in college-level education: At MSU he taught introductory biology, genetics, and population genetics. At JHU, he was an instructor for a special course on biological database design. At FHCRC, he team-taught a graduate-level course on the history of genetics. At Bellevue College he taught medical informatics.

Administrator

Robbins has been involved in science administration at both the federal and the institutional levels. At NSF he was a program officer for database activities in the life sciences, at DOE he was a program officer for information infrastructure in the human genome project. At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he served as a vice president for fifteen years.

Technologist

Robbins has been involved with information technology since writing his first Fortran program as a college student. At NSF he was the first program officer for database activities in the life sciences. At JHU he held an appointment in the CS department and served as director of the informatics core for the Genome Data Base. At the FHCRC he was VP for Information Technology.

Publisher

While still at Michigan State, Robbins started his first publishing venture, founding a small company that addressed the short-run publishing needs of instructors in very large undergraduate classes. For more than 20 years, Robbins has been operating The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web site dedicated to the digital publishing of critical works in science, especially classical genetics.

Speaker

Robbins is well-known for his speaking abilities and is often called upon to provide keynote or plenary addresses at international meetings. For example, in July, 2012, he gave a well-received keynote address at the Global Biodiversity Informatics Congress, sponsored by GBIF and held in Copenhagen. The slides from that talk can be seen HERE.

Facilitator

Robbins is a skilled meeting facilitator. He prefers a participatory approach, with part of the meeting involving dynamic breakout groups, created by the participants in real time: (1) individuals propose breakout groups; (2) everyone signs up for one (or more) groups; (3) the groups with the most interested parties then meet, with reports from each group presented and discussed in a subsequent plenary session.

Designer

Robbins has been engaged with photography and design since the 1960s, when he worked for a professional photography laboratory. He now prefers digital photography and tools for their precision and reproducibility. He designed his first web site more than 20 years ago and he personally designed and implemented this web site. He engages in graphic design as a hobby.

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This is a must read book for anyone with an interest in invasion biology. The full title of the book lays out the author's premise — The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation. Not only is species movement not bad for ecosystems, it is the way that ecosystems respond to perturbation — it is the way ecosystems heal. Even if you are one of those who is absolutely convinced that invasive species are actually "a blight, pollution, an epidemic, or a cancer on nature", you should read this book to clarify your own thinking. True scientific understanding never comes from just interacting with those with whom you already agree. R. Robbins

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Collection of publications by R J Robbins

Reprints and preprints of publications, slide presentations, instructional materials, and data compilations written or prepared by Robert Robbins. Most papers deal with computational biology, genome informatics, using information technology to support biomedical research, and related matters.

Research Gate page for R J Robbins

ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. According to a study by Nature and an article in Times Higher Education , it is the largest academic social network in terms of active users.

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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