Collin McCabe will be giving a public presentation on his doctoral dissertation research.
Social learning and innovation are the behavioral underpinnings of culture in humans and other animals, but these processes can be difficult to quantify. Instead, exploratory tendencies of individuals and patterns of social contact within groups can serve as useful, measurable proxies for innovation and social learning, respectively. In my dissertation, I used complementary methods to investigate the costs of parasite infection that accompany social and exploratory behavior in a variety of taxa. For this particular presentation, I'll present current evidence for links between exploratory tendency, social contact, and parasite risk. Additionally, I'll discuss one case study in detail that investigates the association between exploratory tendencies and parasite infection in commensal and wild-living rodents of Kenya, as well as the implications that these patterns may hold for human parasite risk.