This article was originally published on EurekaAlert


“An international group of researchers working on a wide range of species, from elephants and crows, to whales and chimpanzees, argues that animals’ cultural knowledge needs to be taken into consideration when planning international conservation efforts.

A paper published in leading journal Science (Tuesday 26 February) makes a compelling case that growing scientific evidence on social learning across a wide range of species, which can lead to unique animal cultures, is important for both conservation practice and conservation policy.

Insights into animal cultures can provide valuable information on ‘what’ groups of animals to conserve, and on ‘how’ best to conserve them. For example, understanding how grandmother killer whales pass on valuable information to their offspring, or why some groups of chimpanzees have a culture of cracking nutritious nuts with stone tools while others do not, can be key to evaluating conservation challenges for such species.

In many animal species, inexperienced young learn key survival skills by observing knowledgeable elders in their social group. This includes learning about how to communicate, how to forage efficiently, and where to migrate to when conditions become less hospitable. For example, the transmission of knowledge on migration routes in whooping cranes, and bighorn sheep, can provide critical information for the success of future generations. Unlike genetic transmission, social knowledge can be passed on within generations, so knowledge about new food sources can be shared, potentially providing resilience in changing environments…”

Read on at: EurekaAlert.