The ecological cultural and cognitive context of tool use in New Caledonian crows

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Biology

Abstract

Humans are weird animals. We communicate with a sophisticated language, we make and use tools to transform and exploit the environment, we share knowledge and information with our peers, and we build societies of astonishing complexity. Defining 'intelligence' is a contentious topic, but most would agree that humans are equipped with unsurpassed brain powers -- an observation that only too often leads to an exaggerated perception of 'human uniqueness'. But, what exactly was it that sent us on our unusual evolutionary trajectory? Was it particular ecological circumstances that facilitated one or several key adaptations, like language or tool use, and what role did these traits play in the evolution of culture? It is reasonable to assume that, ceteris paribus, the use of tools and the accumulation of knowledge would have conferred advantages to individuals or groups in other species, yet these traits, and especially their joint presence, are exceedingly rare in the animal kingdom. There are only two species for which cultural transmission of tool technology has been suggested: chimpanzees and, my study subject, the New Caledonian crow. These crows live on a remote Pacific island, where they use tools for extracting grubs from holes and crevices. They use at least three distinct tool types, including the most sophisticated animal tool design yet discovered, and they may even culturally transmit, and progressively refine, aspects of their tool technology (some tools vary in shape). Humans are masters at accumulating cultural information over generations, as evidenced by everyday items like watches or bicycles, not to mention computers or space shuttles. No single person could design and manufacture any of these objects from scratch. We build on the technological heritage of our ancestors, and research suggests it may be this capacity that made our species such an evolutionary success story. In New Caledonia, I investigate how wild crow societies are organised, how juveniles learn their skills, and how much of these birds' daily diet is obtained with tools. I also explore whether there is anything special about these birds' home island that might explain their unusual adaptations. In fact, they may provide a unique window into our own evolutionary past, permitting rare glimpses of what factors may have driven the evolution of tool use and culture in our ancestors. But studying these crows in the wild is not easy, because they are shy and live in dense forest where visibility is limited. My team has developed tiny, animal-borne video cameras that broadcast TV-quality, colour video. These cameras are mounted on a crow's tail, and peek forward through the legs to produce a crow's-eye view of the world. As we recently reported in Science, this novel technology enabled us to hitch a ride with wild crows and obtain intimate insights into their daily lives. It has already changed our understanding of this species' foraging ecology, and it will play a key role in our future work. I complement my fieldwork with controlled experiments with captive crows: (1) to probe their cognitive capabilities (Do they understand basic physical principles? Are they smarter than other animals?); (2) to examine whether they can imitate tutors (the mechanism that would support the cultural transmission of tool technology); and (3) to explore the genetic, social and environmental contributions to the production of particular tool shapes (Do wild-caught adult crows faithfully produce certain tool shapes, and what shapes do cross-fostered juveniles produce?). In the end, I hope my research will produce a much clearer picture of how 'intelligent' these birds really are, and how their unusual behaviour evolved in the first place. It has recently been suggested that Homo floresiensis could not have been a tool user because of its small brain. New Caledonian crows disprove this, and my study of this species may shed further light on our evolutionary roots.

Technical Summary

The New Caledonian crow (NC crow; Corvus moneduloides) is endemic to a remote, tropical island in the South Pacific, where it habitually uses tools for extracting invertebrate prey from holes and crevices. NC crows are the most prolific avian tool users, and the sophistication of their tool technology rivals, and in some aspects outshines, even that observed in chimpanzees. NC crows manufacture their own tools, their tools have complex shapes, they use at least three different tool types, and they possess the ability to solve novel problems through innovation of new tool designs. Perhaps most intriguingly, one tool type (strips cut from the edges of serrated leaves) varies in shape and complexity across the island of New Caledonia; it has been suggested that the observed pattern may reflect a single technological invention that was followed by geographical spread, with progressive refinement of the original tool design. I propose a project with three major themes. THEME 1 explores the ecological relevance of tool use in wild NC crows. A suite of novel observation tools (animal-borne video cameras; stable-isotope profiling) will enable me to estimate individual-level tool-use dependence, and its ecological and social correlates. This work focuses on the adaptive significance of tool use and may help unravel this trait's evolutionary roots. THEME 2 examines the genetic, social and environmental contributions to the production of particular tool shapes with captive subjects (cross-fostering and social-learning experiments) and social-transmission dynamics in wild populations (use of vocal dialects to identify transmission modes; social-network analysis to study information flow). Finally, THEME 3 investigates whether the species' tool-use behaviour is associated with an unusual level of general intelligence ('folk physics' experiments) and/or with particular neurological adaptations (brain anatomy; interspecific cross-fostering).

Publications

10 25 50

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Biro D (2013) Tool use as adaptation. in Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences

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Brakes P (2019) Animal cultures matter for conservation. in Science (New York, N.Y.)

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Klump BC (2018) Preliminary observations of tool-processing behaviour in Hawaiian crows . in Communicative & integrative biology

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Klump BC (2015) Context-dependent 'safekeeping' of foraging tools in New Caledonian crows. in Proceedings. Biological sciences

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O'Donoghue P (2016) Real-time anti-poaching tags could help prevent imminent species extinctions. in The Journal of applied ecology

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
BB/G023913/1 01/09/2009 01/06/2012 £1,148,366
BB/G023913/2 Transfer BB/G023913/1 02/06/2012 01/09/2015 £563,653
 
Description IMPORTANT NOTE: This ResearchFish return is for a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship (2009 to 2015, including a 1-year no-cost extension). For further details, please see my annual reports, my mid-term review, and my final appraisal; the latter contains a comprehensive review of my scientific findings (including unpublished work) and a list of all outputs generated during the funding period.

During my fellowship, I have conducted a comprehensive field study of one of the most remarkable animal tool users, the New Caledonian (NC) crow. These birds live on a remote archipelago in the South Pacific where they use a variety of tool types for extracting prey from deadwood and vegetation. Interestingly, rather than just using objects that are readily available in the environment, they manufacture some of their tools in an elaborate, time-consuming process -- highly specialised skills that may be socially transmitted from bird to bird, leading to distinct crow 'cultures'. In this project, I pursued with my team three inter-related research themes. THEME 1 investigated the costs and benefits of crow tool use, in an attempt to elucidate the ecological circumstances that favour tool behaviour. Using a wide range of methodologies -- including stable-isotope profiling, miniature bird-mounted video cameras, and behavioural experiments with temporarily-captive subjects -- we documented the species' natural foraging behaviour in unprecedented detail, producing first estimates of diet composition and activity budgets. THEME 2 examined how tool-related information may be transmitted between NC crows, and across families, communities and populations, to illuminate the processes that may have led to the species' unusually diverse and sophisticated tool repertoire. Using genetic profiling, cutting-edge tracking technology ('proximity logging'), and field experiments, we showed that innovations can potentially spread rapidly within crow groups, especially when tool-use opportunities are plentiful in the environment, but that exchange between some neighbouring communities or populations may be surprisingly limited. Such transmission dynamics could provide a 'perfect storm' for the evolution of material culture. Finally, THEME 3 explored cognitive aspects of crows' tool-related behaviour, and integrated key findings across objectives, which led to the discovery of natural, species-wide tool behaviour in a second tropical corvid -- the Hawaiian crow. Taken together, this project has significantly advanced our knowledge of NC crow and Hawaiian crow biology, and helped establish these species as valuable non-primate model systems for studying fundamental aspects of (non-human) tool use and culture. By improving our understanding of the conditions that may favour the evolution of tool behaviour, and of the processes that lead to technological diversification and advancement, this project also offered valuable perspectives on the evolutionary origins of humans' exceptional tool-related skills. Apart from generating scientific outputs, my fellowship pioneered two widely-applicable animal tracking technologies (video cameras and proximity loggers), contributed to the training and career development of a large number of junior researchers, resulted in productive collaborations, and led to stimulating exchanges with diverse academic and lay audiences.
Exploitation Route With this fellowship, I have laid solid foundations -- both scientifically and logistically -- for long-term projects on New Caledonian crows and Hawaiian crows. As highlighted by my team's 2016 paper in NATURE, the project's scientific findings have created exciting opportunities for future research, which I am planning to pursue with responsive-mode funding from UKRI. Apart from benefitting my own research programme, outputs generated by this grant are developing significant cross-disciplinary impact, as illustrated by my NARRATIVE IMPACT statement. For example, our innovative animal tracking studies have inspired similar work on a wide range of other study systems. We have also developed new experimental paradigms, for assessing animals' tool-handling behaviour, which could be used productively with primates. BBSRC David Phillips Fellowships are unique amongst UK bioscience research fellowships, with their substantive research support grants (which enable unusually ambitious projects) and with their first-class mentoring scheme (which facilitates fellows' training and career development). I am immensely grateful for the opportunities this award has created for me, and have started giving back to the community as a mentor of BBSRC Future Leader Fellows.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Electronics,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description This grant has generated four types of non-academic impact. SOCIETAL IMPACT Humans feel a real sense of awe when they see other animals using tools. This fascination stems from an awareness that tool use is a rare skill, and that we are particularly good at it -- on an intuitive level, we know that the topic is key to understanding what it is that makes us 'human'. My team's detailed studies of two of the most prolific non-human tool users have provided excellent public-engagement opportunities, through media coverage (resulting from targeted press releases), public lectures, public science exhibitions, and citizen participation in data collection. Entries in the ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITIES category provide a list of initiatives directly related to the research funded by this grant. Highlights include: my team's exhibitions at the 2017 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition and the 2014 BBSRC Great British Bioscience Festival (engagement of diverse non-academic audiences, including school classes); my public Award Lecture at the 2014 British Science Festival (written feedback from audience members demonstrated positive impact on attitudes towards scientific research); my public lecture in 2011 in New Caledonia, which allowed me to explain our research to local communities (strengthened relationships, and resulted in a productive long-term citizen-science project); and the excellent media impact achieved by some of our papers (as measured by their Altmetric scores). ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT The Hawaiian crow is one of the rarest bird species in the world. My team's discovery that the species is a highly dexterous tool user (2016 paper in NATURE) has potentially important implications for ongoing efforts to re-establish wild populations. Our research findings provide critical information for effective conservation planning, and may ultimately contribute to bringing the species back from the brink of extinction. Although the New Caledonian (NC) crow is not currently of conservation concern, our research has substantially improved our understanding of the species' natural history and ecological needs, providing essential information for effective management, if this should become necessary in the future (as an island endemic, the species is inherently 'vulnerable'). An unexpected outcome of our work on developing novel animal tracking technologies, was a concept paper published in 2016 in the JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY that proposed a highly innovative solution to tackling the global wildlife poaching crisis; although these ideas have not been implemented yet, they are now being pursued by major international initiatives. POLICY MAKING AND CULTURAL IMPACT Both of my study species are of cultural significance to local island communities: the NC crow is considered a totem animal by some indigenous tribes, and the Hawaiian crow is revered as an 'aumakua (family god); in fact, Hawaiian crows feature heavily in Hawaiian folklore, and were once kept by kings as ceremonial pets. My public lectures and exhibitions make valuable contributions to nurturing cultural interest in these species, and to generating wider societal discourse about the non-economic value of wildlife. Otherwise, I am member of a working group (thanks to my expertise on animal cultures) that explores possible extensions of the Bonn Convention (United Nations Environment Programme) on protecting migratory animal species; this work has resulted in a policy forum article in SCIENCE in 2019, and is likely to influence international policy, benefitting animal conservation. TECHNOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACT In the course of this grant, my team has pioneered two animal tracking technologies for studying wild birds: animal-borne video cameras and proximity loggers (for details, see SOFTWARE AND TECHNICAL PRODUCTS). This work has been recognised with a string of awards and prizes (for details, see AWARDS AND RECOGNITION) and is being emulated productively by research groups around the world, studying a wide range of animal species. I have also contributed to launching the International Bio-Logging Society in 2017, and currently serve as its Founding President.
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Electronics,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Expert Scientific Adviser, for the "Bonn Convention" (United Nations Environment Programme)
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact senior author on high-profile publication in SCIENCE in 2019, making the case for policy change (wildlife conservation) to be discussed at the upcoming Conference of the Parties in 2020 in India
URL http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6431/1032.summary
 
Description Expert Scientific Adviser, for the Hawaiian crow species recovery programme
Geographic Reach North America 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact first captive-bred birds successfully released into the wild
 
Description 600 Year Anniversary Scholarship
Amount £52,878 (GBP)
Organisation University of St Andrews 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2013 
End 07/2016
 
Description JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research Abroad
Amount ¥12,556,000 (JPY)
Funding ID H28/1018 
Organisation Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) 
Sector Learned Society
Country Japan
Start 08/2016 
End 08/2018
 
Description Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund Award (to showcase fellowship research at the 2017 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition)
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of St Andrews 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2016 
End 03/2018
 
Description PhD studentship (jointly funded: BBSRC and School of Biology, University of St Andrews)
Amount £69,960 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2012 
End 07/2016
 
Description Royal Society Discussion Meeting
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 04/2016
 
Description Student exchange support program (graduate scholarship for degree seeking students)
Amount ¥12,195,000 (JPY)
Organisation Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) 
Sector Public
Country Japan
Start 06/2012 
End 06/2016
 
Description animal-borne proximity loggers 
Organisation University of Washington
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution conducted field study on social-network dynamics in New Caledonian crows
Collaborator Contribution developed proximity-logging technology (Encounternet), which was subsequently adapted in collaboration for our field study
Impact - Rutz C, Burns ZT, James R, Ismar S, Burt J, Otis B, Bowen J, and St Clair JJH (2012). Automated mapping of social networks in wild birds. Current Biology 22: R669-R671. - Rutz C, Morrissey MB, Burns ZT, Burt J, Otis B, St Clair JJH, and James R (2015). Calibrating animal-borne proximity loggers. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 6: 656-667. - St Clair JJH, Burns ZT, Bettaney EM, Morrissey MB, Otis B, Ryder TB, Fleischer RC, James R, and Rutz C (2015). Experimental resource pulses influence social-network dynamics and the potential for information flow in tool-using crows. Nature Communications 6: 7197.
Start Year 2010
 
Description animal-borne video cameras 
Organisation University of Exeter
Department College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution co-developed and used novel animal-borne video cameras to study the behaviour of wild New Caledonian crows
Collaborator Contribution co-developed and used novel animal-borne video cameras to study the behaviour of wild New Caledonian crows
Impact - Rutz C, and Troscianko J (2013). Programmable, miniature video-loggers for deployment on wild birds and other wildlife. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 4: 114-122. - Troscianko J, and Rutz C (2015). Activity profiles and hook-tool use of New Caledonian crows recorded by bird-borne video cameras. Biology Letters 11: 20150777.
 
Description carrion crow vocalisations 
Organisation University of León
PI Contribution help with project design; contribution of tracking expertise
Collaborator Contribution in charge of running the field project
Impact work in progress
Start Year 2017
 
Description comparative corvid genomics 
Organisation Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU Munich)
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution conceptual work; sequencing of crow genomes; data analysis and interpretation
Collaborator Contribution conceptual work; sequencing of crow genomes; data analysis and interpretation
Impact work in progress
Start Year 2015
 
Description comparative corvid genomics 
Organisation University of Otago
Country New Zealand 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution conceptual work; sequencing of crow genomes; data analysis and interpretation
Collaborator Contribution conceptual work; sequencing of crow genomes; data analysis and interpretation
Impact work in progress
Start Year 2015
 
Description contribution to Vertebrate Genomes Project 
Organisation Rockefeller University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution contributed high-quality blood samples of wild New Caledonian crows
Collaborator Contribution Vertebrate Genomes Project
Impact work in progress
Start Year 2018
 
Description population genetics 
Organisation Smithsonian Institution
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution collected blood samples from wild New Caledonian crows for genetic analyses
Collaborator Contribution conducted lab-analyses of these samples
Impact - Rutz C, Ryder TB, and Fleischer RC (2012). Restricted gene flow and fine-scale population structuring in tool using New Caledonian crows. Naturwissenschaften 99: 313-320. - St Clair JJH, Burns ZT, Bettaney EM, Morrissey MB, Otis B, Ryder TB, Fleischer RC, James R, and Rutz C (2015). Experimental resource pulses influence social-network dynamics and the potential for information flow in tool-using crows. Nature Communications 6: 7197.
Start Year 2010
 
Description raven social networks 
Organisation University of Vienna
Country Austria 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution help with project design; contribution of tracking expertise
Collaborator Contribution in charge of running the field project
Impact work in progress
Start Year 2017
 
Description social-network analyses 
Organisation University of Bath
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution collection of empirical data on social-network dynamics of New Caledonian crows
Collaborator Contribution contributions to the analysis of these data
Impact - Bettaney E, James R, St Clair JJH, and Rutz C (2015). Processing and visualising association data from animal-borne proximity loggers. Animal Biotelemetry 3: 27. - Rutz C, Burns ZT, James R, Ismar S, Burt J, Otis B, Bowen J, and St Clair JJH (2012). Automated mapping of social networks in wild birds. Current Biology 22: R669-R671. - Rutz C, Morrissey MB, Burns ZT, Burt J, Otis B, St Clair JJH, and James R (2015). Calibrating animal-borne proximity loggers. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 6: 656-667. - St Clair JJH, Burns ZT, Bettaney EM, Morrissey MB, Otis B, Ryder TB, Fleischer RC, James R, and Rutz C (2015). Experimental resource pulses influence social-network dynamics and the potential for information flow in tool-using crows. Nature Communications 6: 7197.
Start Year 2011
 
Description statistical analyses 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution in charge of running behavioural experiments with wild-caught crows
Collaborator Contribution help with statistical analyses
Impact - St Clair JJH, Klump BC, Sugasawa S, Higgott CG, Colegrave N, and Rutz C (2018). Hook innovation boosts foraging efficiency in tool-using crows. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2: 441-444.
Start Year 2015
 
Description statistical modelling 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution calibrated a novel tracking system (Encounternet) under field conditions
Collaborator Contribution assisted with the analysis of the empirical calibration data
Impact - Rutz C, Morrissey MB, Burns ZT, Burt J, Otis B, St Clair JJH, and James R (2015). Calibrating animal-borne proximity loggers. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 6: 656-667. - St Clair JJH, Burns ZT, Bettaney EM, Morrissey MB, Otis B, Ryder TB, Fleischer RC, James R, and Rutz C (2015). Experimental resource pulses influence social-network dynamics and the potential for information flow in tool-using crows. Nature Communications 6: 7197.
Start Year 2013
 
Description tool behaviour in Hawaiian crows 
Organisation San Diego Zoo Global
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution launched a major collaborative project, to investigate the foraging ecology of the critically-endangered Hawaiian crow
Collaborator Contribution provided access to subjects, and advised on experimental design and methodology
Impact - Rutz C, Klump BC, Komarczyk L, Leighton R, Kramer J, Wischnewski S, Sugasawa S, Morrissey MB, James R, St Clair JJH, Switzer RA, and Masuda BM (2016). Discovery of species-wide tool use in the Hawaiian crow. Nature 537: 403-407.
Start Year 2012
 
Description weaver social networks 
Organisation University of Exeter
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution contribution of tracking equipment (Encounternet) and expertise
Collaborator Contribution in charge of running the field project
Impact work in progress
Start Year 2016
 
Title development of novel bio-logging device (miniature video cameras) 
Description my team has developed video cameras that are so small (ca. 12 g) that they can be attached to wild birds, to obtain a bird's-eye view of the world; this enables unprecedented insights into avian behaviour, ecology, physiology and conservation threats 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact our camera technology has revolutionised the way field biologists are studying birds (and other animals) in their natural habitats; following publication of our breakthrough in SCIENCE (2007), and of a subsequent methods paper in METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION (2013), research groups around the world have started emulating our techniques, building similar camera systems to study a wide range of bird species; my pioneering work in this field has been recognised with a string of national and international awards (see separate entries); I have recently been nominated (unsolicited) for a BBSRC Innovator of the Year Award 
 
Title pioneering use of novel bio-logging device (miniature proximity loggers) 
Description I have led the team that deployed - for the first time worldwide - miniature proximity loggers (ca. 10 g) on wild birds, to study their social-network dynamics; while the basic hard- and software had been developed by US-based collaborators, my input into the final design of tags and receiver stations, and my team's extensive work on system calibration, refinement and field deployment, were key to establishing this groundbreaking new methodology 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact our innovative use of this technology is changing the way biologists are studying interactions between animals in the wild, inlcuding social-network and predator-prey dynamics; my papers in CURRENT BIOLOGY (2012) and NATURE COMMUNICATIONS (2015) have attracted considerable attention; my pioneering work in this field has been recognised with a string of national and international awards (see separate entries); I have recently been nominated (unsolicited) for a BBSRC Innovator of the Year Award 
 
Description coverage of paper in SCIENCE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact coverage of our 2019 paper in SCIENCE; the paper was covered by several news stories, viewed by almost 15,000 readers in 2 weeks, and reached >1.8 million Twitter users
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.altmetric.com/details/56070372
 
Description crow tools exhibited in major museum exhibition; Berlin, Germany 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact public engagement; stimulating discussion with members of the audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.kulturtechnik.hu-berlin.de/en/bwg/clusterausstellung/
 
Description extensive media coverage of paper in BIOLOGY LETTERS 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2015 paper in BIOLOGY LETTERS; the paper had significant international media impact, achieving an Altmetric Score of 355, which makes it one of the journal's highest-ranking papers of all time
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.altmetric.com/details/4916110
 
Description extensive media coverage of paper in NATURE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2016 paper in NATURE; the paper had significant international media impact, achieving an Altmetric Score of 1,371, with more than 110 news stories worldwide, more than 3.1 million Twitter users reached, and more than 81,500 views of an accompanying YouTube video; we showcased this discovery at the 2017 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (see separate entry)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://nature.altmetric.com/details/12001048
 
Description extensive media coverage of paper in NATURE ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2018 paper in NATURE ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION; the paper had significant international media impact, achieving an Altmetric Score of 930, with almost 100 news stories worldwide, and more than 1.7 million Twitter users reached
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.altmetric.com/details/32071636
 
Description extensive media coverage of paper in ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2016 paper in ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE; the paper had significant international media impact, achieving an Altmetric Score of 442
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.altmetric.com/details/10368014
 
Description in-depth interview with NEW SCIENTIST 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact the NEW SCIENTIST is planning to cover my BBSRC-funded research on New Caledonian crows in a forthcoming feature article
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description interview for ST ANDREWS IN FOCUS 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact interview with a local magazine, to explain my BBSRC-funded research to local non-academic audiences; I have received enthusiastic feedback about this
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description interview for feature in SCIENCE SCOTLAND 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact feature-length article that resulted from an interview; published in a Special Issue of SCIENCE SCOTLAND, to highlight outstanding work by Members of the Young Academy of Scotland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description invited evening lecture, Botanical Society of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact invited evening lecture, Botanical Society of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland (15.12.2018)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description invited participant, Workshop "Technology for Conservation: Protecting Animals in the Wild", London, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact invited participant, Workshop "Technology for Conservation: Protecting Animals in the Wild", London, UK (27.-28.09.2018)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description invited speaker and panel member, WILDLABS webinar on "Next-Gen Wildlife Tracking" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact invited speaker and panel member, WILDLABS webinar on "Next-Gen Wildlife Tracking" (20.11.2018)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description invited talk, 'Alala Working Group Meeting, Hilo, Hawaii, USA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact invited talk, 'Alala Working Group Meeting, Hilo, Hawaii, USA (08.02.2018)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description invited talk, Rota Avian Behavioral Ecology Program, Rota, Northern Mariana Islands 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact invited talk, Rota Avian Behavioral Ecology Program, Rota, Northern Mariana Islands (08.03.2019)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description live interview on BBC (ONE) BREAKFAST 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact interview related to our 2018 paper in NATURE ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description live interview on BBC (ONE) BREAKFAST 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact interview related to our exhibit at the 2017 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (see separate entry)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description live interview on BBC Radio 4 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2013 paper in PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B

public engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description news item in SCIENCE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2016 paper in NATURE
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description news item in SCIENCE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2016 paper in ROYAL SOCIETY OPEN SCIENCE
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description public award lecture (British Science Festival) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award, British Science Association; title of the award lecture, which was delivered at the 2014 British Science Festival in Birmingham: Of crafty crows and space shuttles: Animal tool use as a window into human technological evolution; 10.09.2014; lecture sparked questions and discussion afterwards; received extremely positive written feedback that demonstrated a positive impact on the audience (44 survey respondents; data collected and held by the British Science Association)

44 members of the audience filled-in feedback forms provided by the BSA; in response to the question "Overall how would you rate this event?", 42 replied 'excellent', 1 replied 'good', and one did not reply; in response to the statement "I feel I have learnt something new", 41 stated 'strongly agree', 2 stated 'agree', and one did not reply
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description public lecture (Christmas Lecture, Curious Minds Series, 150th Anniversary of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science, Perth, UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact public engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.psns.org.uk/programme/
 
Description public lecture (Scotland's Bird Club, St Andrews, UK) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact public engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description public lecture as part of a major museum exhibition; Berlin, Germany 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact public engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.kulturtechnik.hu-berlin.de/en/bwg/clusterausstellung/
 
Description public lecture in New Caledonia 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a public lecture in Bourail, New Caledonia, to tell local communities about our BBSRC-funded research on New Caledonian crows; the lecture was very well received, led to great discussions on the night, and resulted in productive long-term engagement of a wide range of local interest groups; two attendees told me about their crow observations, which led to a small citizen-science project that was recently published:

- St Clair JJH, Klump BC, van der Wal JEM, Sugasawa S, and Rutz C (2016). Strong between-site variation in New Caledonian crows' use of hook-tool-making materials. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 118: 226-232.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description public science exhibition (2017 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact showcased fellowship research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://royalsociety.org/science-events-and-lectures/2017/summer-science-exhibition/exhibits/crafty-...
 
Description public science exhibition (BBSRC Great British Bioscience Festival, London) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact exhibition at the Great British Bioscience Festival (GBBF), to celebrate BBSRC's 20-year anniversary; 14.-16.11.2014, London (exhibit subsequently shown at Edinburgh Zoo)

public engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description public science exhibition (Edinburgh Zoo) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact re-use of the 'Animal Cultures' exhibit for BBSRC's Great British Bioscience Festival

public engagement
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description research highlight in journal NATURE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2015 paper in PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description talk, Culture Conference, Stirling, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact knowledge exchange; research dissemination; building of collaborative links
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description top-story of research highlights in journal NATURE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact coverage of our 2012 paper in NATURE COMMUNICATIONS

multiple follow-up enquiries
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012