Competition for resources can explain patterns of social and individual learning in nature

  • Marco Smolla, R. Tucker Gilman, Tobias Galla, Susanne Shultz
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, September 2015, Royal Society Publishing
  • DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1405

When not to copy

What is it about?

Learning from others (copying their behaviour or eavesdropping their information), so called social learning, should be almost always more beneficial than engaging in a trial-and-error learning strategy. Theoretically. However, there are situations where animals do not copy others and rather rely on their private information. Here we present a foraging model that shows: when individuals have to share limited resources some environments favour social learning while others do not.

Why is it important?

Previous models overlooked the importance of resource competition. However, limited resources are a fact and it is known that competition shapes many aspects of ecology. Including competition as well as testing learning strategies under different environmental conditions can help us understand, which environments favour the evolution of social learning, and with it tradition and culture.

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The following have contributed to this page: Mr Marco Smolla