The ecological role of behavioral transmission by social learning

Koji Mochida, Hiroki Koda, Masaru K. Hojo, Kohji Takahashi, Masaki Suyama, Ei Ichi Izawa, Yasuo Ihara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Social learning, which is facilitated by observing another individual or its products, differs from individual learning via trial-and-error in the efficiency of both novel behavior acquisition and behavioral transmission within a population. The majority of animals, from insects to primates, can acquire novel behaviors using social information. Drosophila melanogaster is now being used as a research subject in social learning studies, with the aim of improving our understanding of the neurophysiological and genetic basis of learning. However, the ecological roles of social learning have not been fully explored, especially regarding interactions between species or ecosystems. Here, we reviewed empirical studies of social learning in taxa ranging from insects to birds and introduced a theoretical foundation, based on mathematical models, to evaluate the importance of social learning in ecology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-195
Number of pages19
JournalJapanese Journal of Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Culture
  • Imitation
  • Interspecific interaction
  • Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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