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Examining Behavioral Compatibility in Zebra Finches

Watkins, Joy
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The strength of a social relationship may influence how well conspecifics can coordinate their behaviors. The monogamous zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) is well-suited for studies of coordination because pair-bonded partners strive to coordinate their parental care efforts to increase reproductive success. This study evaluates how captive zebra finch mates coordinate their behavior to jointly solve a cognitive challenge. To do this, we are monitoring pairs’ success at solving a two-part coordination task. A training phase was administered to shape the behavior of each partner, such that each partner eventually learned to solve one step of the two-step task and their mate learned to solve the other step. Together, they can then combine their knowledge to solve the complete task. Results from this study will provide further insight about pair-bond coordination in a monogamous species. Future work will assess the importance of individual personality within a pair, where we will examine whether similar personality pairs are more successful on the task than dissimilar pairs.
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