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20 June 2019 Foraging innovation in a large-brained Meliphagidae: Blue-faced Honeyeaters (Entomyzon Cyanotis) open sugar packets
Simon Ducatez, Jayna L. DeVore
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Behavioral innovations are likely to contribute to the persistence of native species in developed areas. Innovativeness has been well-studied in birds, and the frequency with which they innovate is related to their relative brain size. However, the mechanisms by which behavioral innovations emerge and spread remain poorly known. Two major mechanisms are thought to play a fundamental role: the independent appearance of the same innovation in different individuals and innovation diffusion by social learning. Here, we describe observations of multiple Blue-faced Honeyeaters (Entomyzon cyanotis) collecting sugar packets, a technical innovation that had not been published in that species. We also demonstrate that this behavior emerged in 2 developed areas separated by 1,200 km, with multiple individuals engaging in the behavior within one of the sites, such that both independent innovation and social diffusion are likely to have occurred. Using brain size data on 62 species of the Meliphagidae family, we then discuss the likely importance of relative brain size in determining innovativeness in this family, and suggest that anatomical specialization such as the curvature of beaks used in nectar foraging could constrain the emergence of new behaviors in some large-brained species.

Simon Ducatez and Jayna L. DeVore "Foraging innovation in a large-brained Meliphagidae: Blue-faced Honeyeaters (Entomyzon Cyanotis) open sugar packets," The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 131(2), 390-395, (20 June 2019).
Received: 15 March 2018; Accepted: 2 September 2018; Published: 20 June 2019
Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
behavioral innovation
brain size
Entomyzon cyanotis
innovation spread
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