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Title: Ecological, morphological and behavioural aspects of tool-use in New Caledonian crows
Author: Troscianko, Jolyon Tomasz
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 9048
Awarding Body: University of Birmingham
Current Institution: University of Birmingham
Date of Award: 2012
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New Caledonian crows are amongst the most sophisticated tool-users in the animal kingdom. In this thesis I present my findings from various aspects of the crows’ behavioural ecology, morphology and cognition, contributing to our understanding of how this fascinating tool-use behaviour might have evolved. My studies in the field reveal new types of tool manufacture and foraging behaviour that help to build up a complete picture of the ecological importance of tool-use to wild crows. Additionally I demonstrate the subtlety and skill required to extract wood boring beetle larvae from their burrows, accounting for the slow development of tool-use proficiency in juvenile crows. Further work reveals how their unique visual field combines with a peculiarly straight bill to facilitate tool-use; perhaps the only evidence outside of the hominid hand for tool-use specific morphology. Recent studies suggest Corvus species are behaviourally and cognitively predisposed to become tool-users, however, through multiple lines of enquiry this thesis highlights the costs that New Caledonian crows bear in order to become successful tool-users. The unique ecological conditions in New Caledonia are likely to have made this costly form of foraging possible, helping to explain why tool-use is so rarely observed in other animals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QL Zoology