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Optimal population turnover for cultural evolution depend on network size, density and learnability

vrijdag 18 maart 2022
Niels Bohrweg 1
2333 CA Leiden
kamer 413

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LIACS Creative Intelligence Lab and Media Technology MSc will host a public talk by Michael Chimento, a visiting researcher from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior. Michael uses experimental and computational methods to study relationships between social learning and population dynamics in birds.


Optimal population turnover for cultural evolution depend on network size, density and learnability

Animal culture, or behaviors that are socially learned and persist over generations, offers a secondary system of inheritance beyond genes, allowing animals to rapidly adapt to their environment. Further, culture lives on social networks, leading to hypotheses that link social factors to cultural evolutionary dynamics. While plenty of attention has been given to the effects of population size and network structure, little has been given to population turnover, or the cyclic replacement of individuals due to immigration and emigration, or births and deaths. To investigate this, we conducted a large-scale cultural diffusion experiment with 18 populations of wild-caught great tits (Parus major). By analyzing data from automated foraging puzzles, we found a positive effect of population turnover on cultural efficiency in a socially learned foraging behavior. As a follow up, we created a generative model to explore the underlying cognitive mechanisms. We show that turnover can promote selection for higher payoff behaviors by improving a population's overall ability to sample the behavior space. However, the optimal turnover regime depends greatly on network size, density, and how easily acquired behaviors are. Further, we find that turnover is a double-edged sword, and can also increase the likelihood of behavioral extinction, and can reduce repertoire size.

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