© National Geographic Society
Watch clever grackles solve a challenge
from Aesop's Fables
Read the story that goes with the video
© NY Times
The grackle's secret to success
Watch the video and read the story
© Corina Logan
Meet Charlie (female), our first banded great-tailed grackle!
What is behavioral flexibility and is it a mechanism for surviving in new environments?
Behavioral flexibility, the ability to adapt behavior to new circumstances, is thought to play an important role in a species' ability to successfully adapt to new environments and expand its geographic range. However, behavioral flexibility is rarely directly tested in species in a way that would allow us to determine how it works and how we can make predictions about a species' ability to adapt their behavior to new environments. I use great-tailed grackles (a bird species) as a model to investigate this question because they have rapidly expanded their range into North America over the past 120 years. I found that they are behaviorally flexible and that flexibility is independent from problem solving ability, problem solving speed (Logan 2016a), other behaviors (Logan 2016b), and innovativeness (Logan 2016c), and that grackles can solve some problems with a similar efficiency to New Caledonian crows (Logan et al. 2014). Together with my team, we are currently investigating how great-tailed grackles manage to survive in new environments by testing their behavior, immunity, hormones, parasites, and population genetics in three populations from the core of their range to the expanding northern edge. Read more about our investigations at GitHub and follow the grackle adventures on Twitter #TheGrackleProject
My commitment to conducting rigorous research
My goal is to ethically conduct and promote rigorous science. I avoid exploiting myself as a scientist, I facilitate equality and diversity by ensuring that no one is discriminated against when reading my scientific literature, and I make publishing choices keep funds in academia (see my paper and presentation for background). I use the mechanisms of transparency and verifiability to achieve my goal so anyone can evaluate my contributions at every step of the process. I only submit articles to 100% open access journals at ethical publishers, and I publish the review histories and datasets (and usually also R code). I only review and serve as an editor for articles at 100% open access journals at ethical publishers when the review history is published, and I sign my reviews. I preregister my research (write the study plan before collecting data) and I submit it for pre-study peer review at Peer Community In. (Updated May 2019)
Learn how early career researchers are leading individuals and institutions in adopting open practices to improve research rigor at. . .
5 preregistrations passed pre-study peer review at PCI Ecology! Is flexibility manipulatable (review history),
linked with inhibition (reviews),
causal cognition (reviews),
& foraging/social behavior (reviews)?
Tempe, Arizona undergrads: apply to join The Grackle Project
Meet the Arizona grackles
Launched peer review of preregistrations at PCI Ecology!
Launched Editors4BetterResearch initiative!
Beyond brain size paper is out! +2 commentaries & our response
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Shift academic culture through publishing choices. Gates press, F1000 blog
Is behavioural flexibility evidence of cognitive complexity? Gates press release
Wild red deer brain size is heritable; females with larger brains live longer, have more surviving offspring. Cambridge press, Science, New Scientist, Gates, Naked Scientists podcast
New Caledonian crows use social and personal information. UCSB press
Behavioral flexibility is not related to other behaviors. Press: UCSB, Gates. Interviews: Cambridge News, BBC Lunchtime Live (21 July, starts at 31:16)
Behavioral flexibility is not the same as innovativeness. Press: Cambridge, Gates, NY Times ScienceTake, Audubon, Curious Meerkat
Great-tailed grackles are behaviorally flexible and solve Aesop's Fable tests! UCSB press, Nat Geo video
Are grackles the most amazing animals? Grackles vs geckos on BBC's Dotty McLeod (starts at 1h:54m). Grackles vs 6 others on Naked Scientists and 5live Science (grackles at 35:04)
New Caledonian crow vlog at Nat Geo Explorers Journal