Wednesday, January 11, 2012

4 January 2012: Alexis Garland & North Island Robin research, Karori Sanctuary (Zealandia)

Following our guided tour through the Karori Sanctuary, we had the opportunity to learn about the research on North Island New Zealand Robins that is currently taking place in the sanctuary.  Victoria University (of Wellington) Psychobiology PhD candidate Alexis Garland described to us her research investigating counting and recognition of humans as knowledgeable beings (‘agents’) in the environment in her leg-banded population of Robins in the sanctuary.  Alexis clearly described her research to our group and then led a hike into the sanctuary to visit some of her experimental subjects.  We even had the opportunity to participate in an experimental trial with Alexis’ Robins: Peter Kelleher (Psychology) and Bryan Pujol (Business) helped in a trial that tested whether Robins would take a mealworm from an experimental tray when a person had his eyes covered (Bryan) or not (Peter): the Robin chose Bryan’s worm!  Although this was only one trial, Alexis indicated that her research arrived at the same result: Robins recognize when another individual (another species, at that!) is attentive to it, particularly when food, a valuable resource, is at stake.  Our students had some excellent questions for Alexis and were very impressed by Alexis and her Robins.

Bryan Pujol (Business), Alexis Garland (U. of Victoria), and Peter Kelleher (Psychology) preparing for a research trial on North Island Robins.

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