Inheriting behavioral patterns culturally (i.e. by learning from parents) rather than genetically is considered an integral part of individual development for many bird and mammal species. I discuss the possibility that in some cases, particularly when only heavily modified habitat remains available, such transmission might have a negative effect on the individual's adaptability and chances of survival. Instead, animals deprived of normal parental care may be better suited for survival in novel environments. I describe this possible scenario with captive-reared Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) released in southwestern Louisiana, primarily in the context of human-modified habitats used by this reintroduced population. Captive-rearing techniques based on this approach may be beneficial for other threatened species, particularly those that have little or no nonmodified habitat left and are amenable to alternative habitats if cultural transmission is interrupted.
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Vol. 117 • No. 4