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.
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