a1 Department of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556-4619 firstname.lastname@example.org http://philosophy.nd.edu/people/all/profiles/ramsey-grant/index.shtml
Innovation is a key component of most definitions of culture and intelligence. Additionally, innovations may affect a species' ecology and evolution. Nonetheless, conceptual and empirical work on innovation has only recently begun. In particular, largely because the existing operational definition (first occurrence in a population) requires long-term studies of populations, there has been no systematic study of innovation in wild animals. To facilitate such study, we have produced a new definition of innovation: Innovation is the process that generates in an individual a novel learned behavior that is not simply a consequence of social learning or environmental induction. Using this definition, we propose a new operational approach for distinguishing innovations in the field. The operational criteria employ information from the following sources: (1) the behavior's geographic and local prevalence and individual frequency; (2) properties of the behavior, such as the social role of the behavior, the context in which the behavior is exhibited, and its similarity to other behaviors; (3) changes in the occurrence of the behavior over time; and (4) knowledge of spontaneous or experimentally induced behavior in captivity. These criteria do not require long-term studies at a single site, but information from multiple populations of a species will generally be needed. These criteria are systematized into a dichotomous key that can be used to assess whether a behavior observed in the field is likely to be an innovation.
Grant Ramsey is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Duke University in 2007. His research is centered in the philosophy of biology. He has worked on conceptual issues in evolutionary and behavioral biology, including such topics as selection, fitness, drift, altruism, and culture. His recently published articles include “The Fundamental Constraint on the evolution of culture” in the journal Biology & Philosophy and “Block Fitness” in the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
Meredith L. Bastian, Ph.D. candidate and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in Biological Anthropology and Anatomy at Duke University, has authored publications in primate life history, alloparental infant care, and infant development. She graduated magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College in 2000 with a B.A. in Anthropology (with honors) and Psychology. Ms. Bastian received three Intramural Research Training Awards and a Pre-Doctoral Research Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health. Funded by NSF, L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, American Society of Primatologists, and Aleane Webb, she recently completed her fieldwork with wild orangutans in Indonesian Borneo and is currently writing her dissertation.
Carel van Schaik is Director of the Anthropological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, in 1985 and, after a period as postdoctoral scholar at Princeton University and research fellow at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, joined the faculty at Duke University as a professor of Biological Anthropology. His main interest is social and cognitive evolution in primates. He has studied the behavior of macaques, capuchins, leaf monkeys and orangutans in the wild, and of macaques in captivity. His recent work focuses on contributing toward explaining the origins of uniquely derived human behaviors. In particular, he studies the degree to which skills and signals in wild apes are socially acquired.