february, 2018

06feb1:00 pm2:00 pmBenefits of Social Relationships in Carrion CrowsDr Claudia Wascher


Event Details



Some animal societies, particularly primates and corvids, live in complex social groups based on enduring social bonds, which are hypothesized to favour the evolution of sophisticated cognitive skills in these species. A key unresolved issue for understanding the evolution of complex sociality and the associated advanced cognition is to uncover the fitness advantages that social relationships convey to individuals. In my talk, I will present recent findings on individual benefits of social relationships in captive groups of carrion crows. Between 2008 and 2014 I collected behavioural data and faecal samples from 34 captive carrion crows from a cooperatively breeding population in Northern Spain. Individuals with strong social bonds were more successful in aggressive encounters, showed less stress-related behaviours and excreted less gastrointestinal parasite products. Ultimately, these advantages of strong social relationships might be important in driving the evolution of complex group living.

Claudia is a Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University. Her main research interests are in social cognition: cognitive mechanisms underlying cooperation in corvids, vocal communication: carrion crows posses a flexible social system, for example they breed cooperatively in Northern Spain and in pairs in most other populations in Europe and preliminary results suggest cooperative breeding to have major implications on vocal communication, such as the individual call repertoire and frequency to call being higher in cooperatively breeding compared to non-cooperative breeding carrion crows, and cooperation: exploring the frequency of cooperative interactions, e.g. coalition formation, food sharing and identity of regular cooperation partners (e.g. kin, reproductive pair).

If you would like to talk to Claudia, please contact Kevin Laland.

Claudia Wascher’s website


(Tuesday) 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Dyer's Brae Seminar Room

Dyers Brae, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Greenside Place, Fife, KY16 9TH, UK


Carolin Kosiol, Shoko Sugasawa, & Nora Carlsonck202@st-andrews.ac.uk, ss244@st-andrews.ac.uk, nc54@st-andrews.ac.uk Dyers Brae, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9TH, UK