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Causes and consequences of individual differences in cognition
Individuals differ in their cognitive performance, often with consequences for reproductive success, survival and body condition. The mechanisms underlying such individual differences and their ecological and evolutionary relevance in natural systems receive more and more attention.
Here, we will use wild mice such as Mus musculus, Mus spicilegus or Apodemus uralensis to study the relationship between internal state-variables, cognitive performance and fitness.
The successful candidate can make use of several well-adjusted cognitive test setups, laboratory and semi-natural colonies of wild mice to answer questions such as:
To what extend are cognitive abilities heritable in a naturally varying population?
How do the physical or social environment influence the development of cognitive performance?
Do differences in cognitive performance affect body condition, survival and reprodiúctive success under semi-natural conditions? Does cognitive performance play a role in sexual selection?
Boogert, N. J., Madden, J. R., Morand-Ferron, J., & Thornton, A. (2018). Measuring and understanding individual differences in cognition.
Vrbanec, L., Matijević, V., & Guenther, A. (2021). Enhanced problem-solving ability as an adaptation to urban environments in house mice. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 288(1945), 20202504.
Krebs, R., Linnenbrink, M., & Guenther, A. (2019). Validating standardised personality tests under semi‐natural conditions in wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Ethology, 125(11), 761-773.