African Honeyguides

Research on a remarkable
human-animal relationship

Interspecies Cooperation Workshop

Jul 7, 2023

Interspecies Cooperation Workshop
Jessica van der Wal and Dom Cram, together with Mauricio Cantor from Oregon State University, and assisted by Cameron Blair and Rion Cuthill, organised a hybrid Workshop on Interspecies Cooperation on 6 & 7 July in Cambridge (UK). The workshop was funded by an Interdisciplinary Workshop Grant from the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB), to whom we are most grateful. This allowed sponsoring several students from southern Africa and Brazil to join in person, as well as keynote speaker Prof. Judie Bronstein. Twenty people attended in person, and another 20–30 online. The workshop was a success, with a friendly collegial atmosphere, and 27 very interesting talks on different forms of animal-animal and human-animal cooperation, and enlightening round table discussions.


Honey-hunting Research Network workshop

The Honey-hunting Research Network (coordinated by Jessica van der Wal) met in Cape Town for a very enjoyable week of analysing and comparing interview data from honey-hunting cultures across Africa, painting a picture of the human cultural variation relevant to honeyguides, and its uncertain future on a rapidly changing continent. Joining in person were Wiro-Bless Kamboe, Rochelle Mphetlhe, George M’manga, Sanele Nhlabatsi, Daniella Mhangwana, Celiwe Ngcamphalala, Claire Spottiswoode and Jessica van der Wal. Thank you to the Cultural Evolution Society Transformation Fund for funding our get-together!

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New paper on human-honeyguide cooperation and communication

A new study from the Honeyguide Research Project shows that Greater Honeyguides learn the distinct calls that honey-hunters in different parts of Africa use to communicate with them, facilitating cooperation between species. Human honey-hunters signal to honeyguides using specialised calls that vary culturally across Africa. The new study shows using field experiments in Mozambique and Tanzania that honeyguides prefer the specialised calls of the local human culture they interact with, compared to those of a foreign culture. This implies that honeyguides can adjust to human cultural diversity, increasing the benefits of cooperation for both people and birds.

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