© Rod Rolle

Corina Logan
Junior Research Fellow
SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind
University of California, Santa Barbara
Twitter: @LoganCorina
Google Scholar Profile

Publications & Grants
The Grackle Project

Meet Charlie, our first tagged great-tailed grackle!
Charlie is a juvenile female
Leg bands=white/white, white/white

© Corina Logan

Great-tailed grackle male
© Corina Logan

Eurasian jay, Rome, and Corina
© Julia Leijola

How do sociality, ecology, and genetics influence behavior and cognition?

Ecological, social, and genetic environments interact to shape how animals behave and what they know about the world. Investigations in birds are making ground-breaking discoveries: crows make and use tools, rooks cooperate to get food, and western scrub-jays plan for the future. How do they accomplish such feats and what benefits do these abilities provide them in the wild? The answers remain largely unknown, but I endeavor to uncover some of these mysteries.

I investigate the influence of ecology and genetics on behavior and cognition in great-tailed grackles in Santa Barbara, California where I have established a field site. Conducting behavioral observations in the wild and cognitive tests in aviaries allows me to examine their behavior in the context of how natural selection has shaped these traits, how they use their cognition in the wild, and why these abilities might have developed. To place grackle cognition in a theoretical context, I am comparing their cognitive performance with New Caledonian crows (Logan et al. in press): both species are highly innovative, but grackles have a much smaller than expected relative brain size (corrected for body size) for such high innovation rates. How are grackles so innovative? Stay tuned as the results are discovered!

My past research has examined the influence of sociality on behavior, namely that sociality influences how three species of corvid (birds in the crow family) support each other after fights: even the less social species use social support, though they get support from anyone while the more social species interact with their mate after fights (Logan et al. 2013a & 2013b). I highlighted population differences in social coatis (a raccoon relative) by finding that, in one population, adult males play with juveniles rather than prey on them (Logan & Longino 2013). I also hypothesized that the unique ecology of birds that follow army ants could influence their cognition, making them a new system for investigating memory and future planning (Logan et al. 2011).

2012 PhD Experimental Psychology University of Cambridge
  • Thesis: the sociality, ontogeny, and function of corvid post-conflict affiliation (supervisor: Nicola Clayton, advisor: Patrick Bateson)
  • Gates Cambridge Scholar

    2004 BS Biology The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA USA
  • Senior thesis: Play behavior in Nasua narica (white-nosed coati) in Costa Rica (advisor: John T. Longino)

    2002 AA Biology/Drama Skagit Valley College, Mount Vernon, WA USA
  • NEWS
    Currently accepting PhD students. Interested students should contact logan@sagecenter.ucsb.edu.

    Got a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Cambridge for 2015-2018!

    Junior scientists are sceptical of sceptics of open access

    I'm quoted in MacLean's Don't call them bird brains

    Need to study the whole brain to know if non-humans imagine themselves in the past and future

    Into the Minds of Birds a Science Feature on a new bird brain scanning technique

    Watch my New Caledonian crow vlog at National Geographic Explorers Journal!

    Does sitting next to your mate reduce your chance of receiving aggression after a fight? Rooks=yes, jackdaws=no

    Grackles in the news! Daily Nexus, Santa Barbara News-Press

    Why study grackle cognition? See my UCSB news release with video

    My wild grackle project just became an exhibit at the Santa Barbara Zoo!

    Awarded a National Geographic Society / Waitt Grant to study cognition in great-tailed grackles! See the Gates Cambridge news release

    I co-authored a recommendation with Nicky Clayton on what we must do to keep women in science for a Nature Blog by Soapbox Science