Brains and Brawn: dominant lizards are better learners too!

Note: this blog post is republished from Fonti’s web site

Dominant individuals tend to have greater monopoly over food and mates and therefore have more offspring compared to subordinate individuals. Are these successes attributed to greater cognitive ability? Or are dominant individuals just better at freeloading from their clever subordinate counterparts?

We investigated . . . → Read More: Brains and Brawn: dominant lizards are better learners too!

Julia Riley interviewed on ABC radio!

Take a listen to Julia Riley discussing our latest publication on the influence of social environment on learning in tree skinks (Egernia striolata). The interview was with Marc Fennell on ABC radio.

This work, led by Julia, has been published in Animal Cognition:

Riley, JL., Noble, DWA., Byrne, RW., Whiting, MJ. 2016. Does social . . . → Read More: Julia Riley interviewed on ABC radio!

Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

By Julia Riley

A family-living lizard’s ability to navigate through a complex maze is not linked to how they were raised

We have found that the learning ability of the Tree Skink, a lizard that lives with family, is not linked to growing up with others. These lizards were . . . → Read More: Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

Sex, boldness and learning in a lizard

Followers of the Lizard Lab blog will have read previous reports about relatively rapid learning in lizards. In those studies we typically focused on males or avoided drawing comparisons between the sexes because either the sample size was limited or the focus of the study was different. In our latest paper we decided the . . . → Read More: Sex, boldness and learning in a lizard

Dispatches from the field: Australian Geographic expedition to the Kimberley, WA

The Kimberley in Western Australia is a vast expanse of wilderness, famous for its pristine gorges and unique fauna. It’s also home to the highest species richness of goannas—up to 10 are sympatric in some areas. Sean Doody (University of Tennessee and Newcastle), Simon Clulow (University of Newcastle) and Colin McHenry (Monash University) have . . . → Read More: Dispatches from the field: Australian Geographic expedition to the Kimberley, WA

Hot off the press! “Learning outdoors: male lizards show flexible spatial learning under semi-natural conditions”

For anyone interested in comparative cognition, these are exciting times and 2012 has been a good year for lizards! Manuel Leal and Robert Powell’s study of Anolis cognition demonstrated that lizards are capable of behavioural flexibility. (Behavioural flexibility, a key feature of advanced cognition, is the ability to solve a novel problem, or develop . . . → Read More: Hot off the press! “Learning outdoors: male lizards show flexible spatial learning under semi-natural conditions”

Mole-rats varied life boosts the brain — ABC Science

Read an account of our recent work on mole-rat spatial cognition by Dani Cooper of ABC science. This work was carried out by Lydia du Toit while she she was on a postdoc with Martin.

Mole-rats varied life boosts the brain — ABC Science

Natal mole-rat (Cryptomys hottentotus natalensis). Photo © Jenny Jarvis.

. . . → Read More: Mole-rats varied life boosts the brain — ABC Science

Influence of spatial environment on maze learning in an African mole-rat

We have just published a study on African mole-rat cognition which provides evidence that captivity in a less stimulating environment can result in a decline in cognitive performance. Recently caught mole-rats from the wild performed better in a maze test than long-term captives living in a simple environment. This suggests that your environment can . . . → Read More: Influence of spatial environment on maze learning in an African mole-rat

Dispatches from the lab: how smart are cane toads? Also, interested in a cognition internship?

In case you are not Australian, you may not know that the cane toad was introduced into Australia in 1935 to control beetle pests in sugar cane fields in Queensland. Martin is working with Pau Carazo, Rick Shine and Josh Amiel on toad cognition and brain structure. In particular, we are interested in whether . . . → Read More: Dispatches from the lab: how smart are cane toads? Also, interested in a cognition internship?