, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 131-140

Social learning about predators: a review and prospectus

Abstract

In comparison with social learning about food, social learning about predators has received little attention. Yet such research is of potential interest to students of animal cognition and conservation biologists. I summarize evidence for social learning about predators by fish, birds, eutherian mammals, and marsupials. I consider the proposal that this phenomenon is a case of S-S classical conditioning and suggest that evolution may have modified some of the properties of learning to accommodate for the requirements of learning socially about danger. I discuss some between-species differences in the properties of socially acquired predator avoidance and suggest that learning may be faster and more robust in species in which alarm behavior reliably predicts high predatory threat. Finally, I highlight how studies of socially acquired predator avoidance can inform the design of prerelease antipredator training programs for endangered species.