Anthropology Colloquia Series: Dr. Corina Logan Presents What is Behavioral Flexibility and Is it a Mechanism for Surviving in New Environments?


Start Date: Nov 15, 2018 - 03:30pm

Location: Castetter Hall 101

Dr. Corina Logan, Senior Researcher, Dept. of Human Behavior, Ecology & Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology will present on the topic: What Is Behavioral Flexibility and Is it a Mechanism for Surviving in New Environments?  Co-hosted with the UNM Department of Biology, this event will take place at 3:30 pm in Castetter Hall 101 on Thursday, November 15. 

Abstract: Behavioral flexibility—the ability to adapt behavior to new circumstances—is thought to play an important role in a species’ ability to adjust successfully to new environments and to expand its geo-graphic range. Behavioral flexibility, however, is rarely directly tested in species in a way that (1) allows us to determine how it works and (2) how we can make predic-tions about a species’ ability to adapt their behavior to new environments. Dr. Logan uses great-tailed grackles (a bird species) as a model to investigate this question because they have rapidly expanded their range into North America over the past 140 years. She found that: they are behaviorally flexible; that flexibility is independent of problem-solving ability, problem-solving speed (Logan 2016a), other behaviors (Logan 2016b), and innovativeness (Logan 2016c); and that grackles can solve some problems with a similar efficiency to New Caledonian crows (Logan 2016a, Logan et al. 2014). This suggests that behavioral flexibility could be involved in facilitating the expansion of great-tailed grackles. Currently, Dr. Logan is investigating how they manage to survive in new environments by testing their behavior, immunity, hormones, parasites, and population genetics in three populations from the middle of their range to the expanding northern edge. Throughout this talk, Dr. Logan also will share how she has made my research program open and transparent to improve research rigor.