The goals of this proposal are to 1. Lay down the building blocks for a long-term mutually beneficial collaborative research program examining the causes and consequences of species adaptation to environmental change between Prof Bugnyar (U Vienna), Dr Healy (U St Andrews), Prof Güntürkün (Ruhr-U Bochum), and Dr Griffin (U Newcastle, AUS), 2. Create a synergistic team of three experienced scientists (Dr Griffin, Dr Bailey, Dr Schwab) and three world-leading researchers in avian cognition, behaviour, and neuroscience (Bugnyar, Healy, Güntürkün) that will exchange research expertise and pool research facilities to undertake the first geographically global exploration of the role of behavioural flexibility and brain anatomy in species adaptation to rampant worldwide urbanization, and 3. Position three exchange researchers (Griffin, Bailey, Schwab) as interdisciplinary experts capable of working at the interface between behaviour, neuroscience and urban ecology. We propose a program of studies and researcher exchanges to investigate the behaviour and brains of three highly successful invasive avian species across a rural to urban environmental gradient. We seek funding for secondments of two outgoing European researchers, and one incoming Australian researcher to collect scientific data on avian species local to the area, learn new skill sets, and build collaborative links by participating in ongoing collegial exchange and national conferences. By examining several avian species, in several planet-wide geographical locations, using several different measures of behavioural flexibility, and describing associated brain changes, we will gain the first firm evidence for, or against, the hypothesis that increasing behavioural flexibility and enlarged brain size predispose animals to surviving on an increasingly urbanized planet. The program will achieve knowledge transfer between research partners, and create new knowledge of significant theoretical and applied importance.
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