Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Personality of geese determines their foraging behaviour

Date:
May 21, 2010
Source:
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Summary:
When searching for food, slow, shy barnacle geese follow information given by their flock mates. On the other hand, fast, bold geese ignore this type of information and go off in search for food on their own. Whether barnacle geese make use of social information (from other individuals) depends on their personality.

Experimental set up with social information.
Credit: Image courtesy of Wageningen University and Research Centre

When searching for food, slow, shy barnacle geese follow information given by their flock mates. On the other hand, fast, bold geese ignore this type of information and go off in search for food on their own. Whether barnacle geese make use of social information (from other individuals) depends on their personality. This is the conclusion drawn by ecologists from Wageningen University and their colleagues from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in the journal Ecology Letters.

Researchers from Wageningen University and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) determined the personality of the barnacle geese by studying their reactions to novel objects, such as a piece of carpet. Some of the geese approached the object directly without signs of fear ('bold'), while others were slower and more cautious ('shy') about approaching the strange object.

Experiment

To find out whether and how barnacle geese use social information, the research team set up an experiment whereby all of the bold geese and the shy geese were given a minute and a half to watch two groups of barnacle geese. One group of geese was given food, the other group was not. The behaviour of these two groups differed according to whether or not they were given food.

This behavioural difference, which was visible to the geese watching them, is a source of social information about the food supply. After watching the two groups, each goose was allowed to decide which group it wanted to join. Food was only made available to the geese on the side where the geese it had watched had been given food.

Personality

The shy geese joined the group that was eating, while the bold geese ignored the social information and went searching for food on their own. The personality of the geese was the determining factor in whether they used the social information or not.

But how consistently did the geese use the social information? In a follow-up experiment, the researchers tested whether the shy geese would continue to use the information even if it proved to be incorrect. Once again, there were two groups, one with food, the other without. However, this time the food for the geese watching was placed on the side where the geese had not been fed.

The researchers saw that at first, the geese joined the group they had seen eating. After trying this a few times, the geese stopped because the social information given by the geese they had been watching turned out not to correspond with the actual location of the food. The shy geese had therefore learned that the social information was no longer valid and decided to ignore it when choosing a group. The bold geese had not used the information anyway and were therefore not fooled by the false information.

This behavioural study shows that personality plays an important role in the use of social information. It has implications for the spatial distribution of populations in species whereby the use of social information plays a role, such as in choosing a place to land. Up until now, it had been assumed that all individuals were equally likely to make use of information gleaned from their own sort. This study proves that personality plays an important part in the way this information is used and therefore also in the spatial distribution of various personalities within a population.

The study was financed by The Faunafonds.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wageningen University and Research Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kurvers et al. Personality predicts the use of social information. Ecology Letters, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01473.x

Cite This Page:

Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Personality of geese determines their foraging behaviour." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520093206.htm>.
Wageningen University and Research Centre. (2010, May 21). Personality of geese determines their foraging behaviour. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520093206.htm
Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Personality of geese determines their foraging behaviour." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100520093206.htm (accessed April 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, April 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins