Sonja Wild

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Research Interests


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+41 44 635 54 18 +41 44 635 68 04 sonja.wild*uzh.ch

My interest lies on the emergence of animal culture and the process through which cultural behavioural traits are passed on among individuals. By combining behavioural and ecological data with molecular techniques, I will be able to assess the relative importance of social learning, ecological variation and relatedness on behavioural variation within animal populations. In my thesis, I will focus on both the ultimate and proximate mechanisms of how a recently discovered putative foraging technique ‘shelling’ is transmitted within a population of wild bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia. I will use network-based approaches combined with genetic analyses to gain an understanding of how this behaviour is acquired and transmitted within this population. The mechanisms of social learning and the emergence of culture in animals can give us an insight in how human culture might have evolved and how cultural traditions are spread and maintained within a population.