Chickadees and Change: Little Birds, Big Learning
Animals are constantly faced with decisions such as where, when and how long to forage, with whom to mate and where to breed. Uncertainty in making these decisions can have profound consequences. For some animals, it can be a matter of life or death.
Animals need information to adapt and adjust their behaviours when conditions change. Yet there is growing evidence that individual animals differ consistently in how they value information.
Dr. Kimberley Mathot, Canada Research Chair in Integrative Ecology, is working with her research team to understand how and why individual animals differ in how they value and act on information, how they share information within groups, and what value that information has in adapting and reducing uncertainty.
Mathot’s research sits at the intersection of ecology, physiology and psychology. Much of her work is focused on the Alberta chickadee and how it adapts to harsh winter conditions.
Ultimately, her research will help us better understand the processes that shape complex patterns of phenotypic variation (the differences in the traits or characteristics of an organism that we can observe). This will in turn provide insights into the ability of individuals and populations to respond to changing environmental conditions.