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Investigating sex differences in learning in a range-expanding bird
Do sex-biased dispersal and learning ability interact to shape range expansion?Recommended by Benoit Pujol based on reviews by Jean-François Gerard, Rachel Harrison and 1 anonymous reviewer
Sex-biased dispersal is widely acknowledged to influence range expansion and the geographic limits of species (Trochet et al. 2016). Evidence is accruing that suggests an impact of the learning ability of species on their capacity to colonise new habitats because the ability to learn provides an advantage when confronted to novel challenges (Lee and Thornton 2021). Whether these two mechanisms interact to shape range expansion remains however unknown. One could expect this interaction because both dispersal and the ability to learn are linked to related behaviours (e.g., exploration, Lee and Thornton 2021).
In their study entitled “Investigating sex differences in learning in a range-expanding bird”, Alexis J. Breen and Dominik Deffner (Breen and Deffner 2022) propose to test this hypothesis in range-expanding great-tailed grackles (Quiscalus mexicanus) by exploring the individual variation of several behavioural traits (e.g., exploration, neophobia, problem solving, Logan 2016) linked to their learning ability. They will use a colour-reward reinforcement experimental approach to compare the learning performance between male and female great-tailed grackles in three study sites and evaluate whether sex-biased learning ability interacts with sex-biased dispersal. Data will be analysed by a Bayesian reinforcement learning model (Deffner et al. 2020), which model was validated.
This Stage 1 registered report was evaluated over one round of in-depth review by Jean-François Gerard, Rachel Harrison and one anonymous reviewer, and another round of review by Jean-François Gerard and Rachel Harrison.
Based on detailed responses to the comments and the modifications brought to the manuscript by the authors, the recommender judged that the manuscript met the Stage 1 criteria and therefore awarded in-principle acceptance (IPA).
URL to the preregistered Stage 1 protocol: https://osf.io/v3wxb
Level of bias control achieved: Level 2. At least some data/evidence that will be used to answer the research question has been accessed and partially observed by the authors, but the authors certify that they have not yet observed the key variables within the data that will be used to answer the research question AND they have taken additional steps to maximise bias control and rigour.
List of eligible PCI RR-friendly journals:
Trochet, A., Courtois, E. A., Stevens, V. M., Baguette, M., Chaine, A., Schmeller, D. S., Clobert, J., & Wiens, J. J. (2016). Evolution of sex-biased dispersal. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 91(3), 297–320. https://doi.org/10.1086/688097
Lee, V. E., & Thornton, A. (2021). Animal cognition in an urbanised world. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 9, 120. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.633947
Logan, C. J. (2016b). Behavioral flexibility in an invasive bird is independent of other behaviors. PeerJ, 4, e2215. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2215
Deffner, D., Kleinow, V., & McElreath, R. (2020). Dynamic social learning in temporally and spatially variable environments. Royal Society Open Science, 7(12), 200734. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.200734
Breen, A. J. & Deffner D. (2022). Investigating sex differences in learning in a range-expanding bird., https://github.com/alexisbreen/Sex-differences-in-grackles-learning, in principle acceptance of version 2 by Peer Community in Registered Reports. https://osf.io/v3wxb