The ecological significance of tool use in new Caledonian Crows

Rutz, C., Bluff, L.A., Reed, N., Troscianko, J., Newton, J. , Inger, R., Kacelnik, A. and Bearhop, S. (2010) The ecological significance of tool use in new Caledonian Crows. Science, 329(5998), pp. 1523-1526. (doi:10.1126/science.1192053)

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Publisher's URL: http://www.sciencemag.org

Abstract

Tool use is so rare in the animal kingdom that its evolutionary origins cannot be traced with comparative analyses. Valuable insights can be gained from investigating the ecological context and adaptive significance of tool use under contemporary conditions, but obtaining robust observational data is challenging. We assayed individual-level tool-use dependence in wild New Caledonian crows by analyzing stable isotope profiles of the birds’ feathers, blood, and putative food sources. Bayesian diet-mixing models revealed that a substantial amount of the crows’ protein and lipid intake comes from prey obtained with stick tools—wood-boring beetle larvae. Our calculations provide estimates of larva-intake rates and show that just a few larvae can satisfy a crow’s daily energy requirements, highlighting the substantial rewards available to competent tool users.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Newton, Dr Jason
Authors: Rutz, C., Bluff, L.A., Reed, N., Troscianko, J., Newton, J., Inger, R., Kacelnik, A., and Bearhop, S.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Science
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science
ISSN:0036-8075
ISSN (Online):1095-9203
Published Online:17 September 2010
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