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In The Journal of animal ecology

Determining the cultural propensities or cultural behaviours of a species during foraging entails an investigation of underlying drivers and motivations. In this article, we propose a multi-component approach involving behaviour, ecology, and physiology to accelerate the study of cultural propensities in the wild. We propose as the first component the use of field experiments that simulate natural contexts, such as foraging behaviours and tool use opportunities, to explore social learning and cultural tendencies in a variety of species. To further accelerate this component, we discuss and advocate for the use of modern machine learning video analysis tools. In conjunction, we examine non-invasive methods to measure ecological influences on foraging such as phenology, fruit availability, dietary intake; and physiological influences such as stress, protein balance, energetics, and metabolism. We feature non-invasive urine sampling to investigate urea, creatinine, ketone bodies, the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3), cortisol and Connecting peptides of insulin. To conclude, we highlight the benefits of combining ecological and physiological conditions with behavioural field experiments. This can be done across wild species, and provides the framework needed to test ecological hypotheses related to cultural behaviour.

Mannion Kelly Ray, Ballare Elizabeth F, Marks Markus, Gruber Thibaud


cultural behaviour, field experiments, foraging ecology, physiology, tool use