The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "Innovation across 13 ungulate species: problem solvers are less integrated in the social group and less neophobic"

Posted on 2023-03-30 - 17:59
Innovation is the ability to solve new problems or find novel solutions to familiar problems, and it is known to provide animals with crucial fitness benefits. Although this ability has been extensively studied in some taxa, the factors that predict innovation within and across species are still largely unclear. In this study, we used a novel foraging task to test 111 individuals belonging to 13 ungulate species—a still understudied taxon. To solve the task, individuals had to open transparent and opaque cups with food rewards, by removing their cover. We assessed whether individual factors (neophobia, social integration, sex, age, rank) and socio-ecological factors (dietary breadth, fission–fusion dynamics, domestication, group size) predicted participation and performance in the task. Using a phylogenetic approach, we showed that success was higher for less neophobic and socially less integrated individuals. Moreover, less neophobic individuals, individuals of domesticated species and having higher fission–fusion dynamics were more likely to participate in the task. These results are in line with recent literature suggesting a central role of sociality and personality traits to successfully deal with novel challenges, and confirm ungulates as a promising taxon to test evolutionary theories with a comparative approach.


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