Social Learning is Udderly Amazing
Research scientists from the University of Wyoming have recently discovered that hooved animals (ungulates) learn from the elder and more experienced members of the herd. Through cultural knowledge, the elder ungulates pass the information down from generation to generation most likely in the form of observational or social learning.
Using gps tracking devices, the researchers studied the migration routes and movements of more than 250 bighorn sheep and nearly 190 moose in the tristate area of Idaho, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Some of the tracked animals were from long time (200 years) established herds, while others were recently introduced (20 years). The scientists determined that the herds with more established animals performed better in locating richer food sources and migration patterns than the younger herds.
Geese and cranes also use social learning theories of migration patterns.
The research is important to note that if a migration route becomes blocked (e.g. new highways, etc.), it may take several decades for these hoofed animals to learn and establish a new foraging migration route.
All photos courtesy of National Park Service.
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