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Author

R. Meinertzhagen

Bio: R. Meinertzhagen is an academic researcher. The author has an hindex of 1, co-authored 1 publications receiving 21 citations.

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Journal ArticleDOI
03 Apr 2008-Ibis

22 citations


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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is argued that adherence to conventional, narrow definitions of teaching, generally derived from observations of human adult-infant interactions, has caused many related but simpler phenomena in other species to go unstudied or unrecorded, and severely limits further exploration of this topic.
Abstract: We derive a simple operational definition of teaching that distinguishes it from other forms of social learning where there is no active participation of instructors, and then discuss the constituent parts of the definition in detail. From a functional perspective, it is argued that the instructor's sensitivity to the pupil's changing skills or knowledge, and the instructor's ability to attribute mental states to others, are not necessary conditions of teaching in nonhuman animals, as assumed by previous work, because guided instruction without these prerequisites could still be favored by natural selection. A number of cases of social interaction in several orders of mammals and birds that have been interpreted as evidence of teaching are then reviewed. These cases fall into two categories: situations where offspring are provided with opportunities to practice skills ("opportunity teaching"), and instances where the behavior of young is either encouraged or punished by adults ("coaching"). Although certain taxonomic orders appear to use one form of teaching more often than the other, this may have more to do with the quality of the current data set than with inherent species-specific constraints. We suggest several directions for future research on teaching in nonhuman animals that will lead to a more thorough understanding of this poorly documented phenomenon. We argue throughout that adherence to conventional, narrow definitions of teaching, generally derived from observations of human adult-infant interactions, has caused many related but simpler phenomena in other species to go unstudied or unrecorded, and severely limits further exploration of this topic.

489 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors make the case for an evolutionary perspective that treats teaching as a form of cooperative behavior which functions to promote learning in others, and suggest that natural selection is likely to favour different forms of teaching, depending on whether it serves to promote the learning of procedural or declarative information.

213 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Wild reed warblers use several techniques to capture their insect prey (mainly Diptera), but rapid learning of prey handling ability is restricted to a sensitive period early in development, before structural maturation of the bill is completed.

91 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
03 Apr 2008-Ibis
TL;DR: The fact that the family rupture is sudden and that the post-fledging dependence period tends to shorten as the season progresses suggests that juvenile and adult migratory urgency may be as important a factor as reduced parental investment in breaking the family ties.
Abstract: Juvenile and adult behaviour was studied at eight nests of Black Kites Milvus migrans within the Donana Biological Reserve, Spain. Parental investment in vigilance and defence of offspring progressively decreased during the post-fledging dependence period. The number of feeds was also slightly reduced towards the end of the period. However, this does not seem to be the main factor which leads to juvenile independence. The fact that the family rupture is sudden and that the post-fledging dependence period tends to shorten as the season progresses suggests that juvenile and adult migratory urgency may be as important a factor as reduced parental investment in breaking the family ties.

54 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
01 Sep 2004-Ethology
TL;DR: Continuous videotaping of nests to document the process of fledging in the house wren, Troglodytes aedon, a small, cavity-nesting songbird, and test hypotheses as to what might cause fledging to begin found no evidence that fledging was triggered by changes in parental behaviour.
Abstract: Little is known about the process or causes of fledging or nest-leaving in passerine birds because researchers can rarely predict when fledging will occur in a given nest. We used continuous videotaping of nests to both document the process of fledging in the house wren, Troglodytes aedon, a small, cavity-nesting songbird, and test hypotheses as to what might cause fledging to begin. Fledging began any time from 14 to 19 d after hatching commenced. Slower-developing broods fledged later than faster-developing broods. Fledging typically began within 5 h of sunrise and over 80% of all nestlings fledged before noon. All nestlings fledged on the same day at 65% of nests and over two consecutive days in most other nests. We found no evidence that fledging was triggered by changes in parental behaviour. Parental rate of food delivery to nestlings did not decline during a 3-h period leading up to the first fledging, nor was the rate of feeding just prior to the first fledging lower than the rate at the same time the day before. Moreover, parents did not slow the rate of food delivery to nests after part of the brood had fledged. Hatching is asynchronous in our study population which creates a marked age/size hierarchy within broods. At most nests, the first nestling to fledge was the most well-developed nestling in the brood or nearly so (as measured by feather length). This suggests that fledging typically begins when the most well-developed nestlings in the brood reach some threshold size. However, at about one-fifth of nests, the first nestling to fledge was only moderate in size. At these nests, severe competition for food may have caused smaller, less competitive nestlings to fledge first to increase their access to food. We found no strong support for the suggestion that the oldest nestlings delay fledging until their least-developed nestmate reaches some minimum size, although further experimental work on this question is warranted.

40 citations