31-01-2018 Ljerka Ostojic


Social Cognition in Corvids: Lessons from Eurasian jay caching and food-sharing behaviours


To study social cognition in corvids, we use Eurasian jays (Garrulus glandarius) as a model species because we can utilise two natural behaviours, namely caching and food-sharing. Like other corvids, Eurasian jays utilise a range of cache-protection strategies when there is potential that a conspecific could steal their caches. These studies suggest that cachers might be able to take into account what a conspecific can see or hear (perspective taking). In addition, we have developed a novel behavioural paradigm to test whether jays might be sensitive to what a conspecific wants or desires (desire-state attribution). This paradigm allows us to investigate whether male Eurasian jays respond to the changing desire of their female partner when sharing food with her during courtship. Finally, I will present recent collaborative projects that integrate behavioural experiments and computational models to investigate the mechanisms that underlie the jays’ caching and food-sharing behaviours.