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Author Krueger, K.; Farmer, K.; Heinze, J.
Title The effects of age, rank and neophobia on social learning in horses Type Journal Article
Year 2014 Publication Animal Cognition Abbreviated Journal Anim. Cogn.
Volume 17 Issue 3 Pages 645-655
Keywords Horse; Social learning; Sociality; Ecology; Social relationships
Abstract Social learning is said to meet the demands of complex environments in which individuals compete over resources and co-operate to share resources. Horses (Equus caballus) were thought to lack social learning skills because they feed on homogenously distributed resources with few reasons for conflict. However, the horse’s social environment is complex, which raises the possibility that its capacity for social transfer of feeding behaviour has been underestimated. We conducted a social learning experiment using 30 socially kept horses of different ages. Five horses, one from each group, were chosen as demonstrators, and the remaining 25 horses were designated observers. Observers from each group were allowed to watch their group demonstrator opening a feeding apparatus. We found that young, low ranking, and more exploratory horses learned by observing older members of their own group, and the older the horse, the more slowly it appeared to learn. Social learning may be an adaptive specialisation to the social environment. Older animals may avoid the potential costs of acquiring complex and potentially disadvantageous feeding behaviours from younger group members. We argue that horses show social learning in the context of their social ecology, and that research procedures must take such contexts into account. Misconceptions about the horse’s sociality may have hampered earlier studies.
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Corporate Author Thesis
Publisher Springer Berlin Heidelberg Place of Publication Editor
Language English Summary Language Original Title
Series Editor Series Title Abbreviated Series Title
Series Volume Series Issue Edition
ISSN 1435-9448 ISBN Medium
Area Expedition Conference
Notes Approved no
Call Number Equine Behaviour @ team @ Serial 5737
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