Written by S.Y. Landau, F.D. Provenza
Much circumstantial evidence has accumulated for ape culture, based on observations of the transfer of adult expertise to novices, typically juveniles. Controlled experiments have ruled out environmental or genetic explanations for these social learning propensities. This acumen might not be unique to primates. Here, we identify feeding behaviours susceptible to social transmission, refute possible non-social (genetic, environmental) explanations, and assess if the patterns of social learning are conducive to traditions or even cultures in domesticated goats. We claim that not only has domestication not eroded social intelligence, but that managerial constraints and in particular nutritional constraints imposed after domestication have encouraged the development of goat traditions and cultures. Following domestication, the contribution of browse rich in plant secondary compounds (PSCs) to goat nutrition has increased due to humans providing browse as fodder and restricting goats to habitats dominated by browse. Social learning has been essential for goats to acquire safe and nutritionally wise foraging behaviours in PSC-rich environments. Genetics can contribute to alleviating the deleterious effects of PSCs, but matrilineal traditions are essential for learning to use PSC-rich plants for nutritional and medicinal benefits, including learning feeding sequences that alleviate the deleterious effects of PSCs. In utero conditioning, perinatal microbiome colonization, and milk flavors contribute to passive maternal learning of feeding behaviours. Active learning from the mother is of major importance before weaning, whereas individual learning of food avoidance and preference is important after weaning. We contend that matrilineal learning, both in passive and active forms, is the basis of traditions in goat feeding behaviours. Residual, yet flexible, group-bonding of goats based on matrilineal idiosyncrasies helps to explain how these behaviours persist in different goat cultures. Finally, in stable groups, goats develop affinity and affiliative relationships. They rely on licking, social grooming and body contact to decrease the frequency of agonistic interactions, including social mediation of conflicts. Goats also learn from humans and mother-dependent docility can pre-dispose offspring to learn from humans. In summary, goats have a high level of social intelligence necessary to function within complex and dynamic social and biophysical environments, a condition deemed essential for the existence of cultures. To our knowledge this is the first compilation of evidence showing traditions and cultures in domestic animals.
January 2019 report
Written by S.Y. Landau, Editor-in-Chief, Small Ruminant Research (Elsevier)
Small Ruminant Research (SRR) is the official journal of the International Goat Association (IGA). Good science, relevance to small ruminant farming, and novelty are the major criteria of publication of our journal. Maintaining the quality of English is an ever-lasting challenge, as the majority of our contributors, reviewers and associate editors are not native English speakers.
Mrs. Tova Deutch surveyed the 1618 published papers from the last 6 years to identify strengths and weaknesses. The results are presented HERE (for IGA members only).
S. Y. Landau earned his B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. titles at the Faculty of Agriculture of the Hebrew University (Rehovot, Israel). He served as a nutritionist with the Sheep and Goats division of the Extension Service, Ministry of Agriculture (1978-1996) and in 1996, after a post-doc at West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV), he joined the Department of Natural Resources of the Agricultural Research Organization (ARO, the Volcani Center). Yan has spent sabbatical leaves at Utah State University (Logan, UT) and at CIRAD (St Pierre, La Reunion). His research interests are the nutrition of free-ranging domestic and wild herbivores, near-infrared spectrometry (NIRS) in agricultural and food sciences, plant secondary metabolites, self-medication in grazing animals, and integrated rain-fed semi-arid production systems. He was the founder (2012) and leader of the joint-venture of ARO and the Edmond de Rothschild Natural Park, termed “GoatWise” on all aspects of goat grazing in Mediterranean woodland. He was the recipient of grants from national (Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Environmental Quality, Commerce and Industry) and international (US: BARD, IALC, and MERC; France-Israel) sources of funding. He tutored 18 M.Sc. and Ph.D. students, authored or co-authored 88 papers in refereed literature, 15 book chapters, more than 60 popular articles and 120 papers and abstracts in symposia proceedings. He has served as Associate Editor for Nutrition for two terms and been nominated Editor-in-Chief of Small Ruminant Research (Elsevier) in 2016.
Yan is an IGA member and serves on the Board of Directors.
Written by Yan Landau on behalf of the entire IGA Board.
Prof. Nissim Silanikove passed away on 13 August 2017, after combatting cancer for many years. Nissim was an Associate Editor of Small Ruminant Research over a 14-year period for papers addressing milk products and lactation.
Nissim was born in Rehovot (Israel) in 1950 to a family of Bulgarian Jews. He was interested in agriculture from a very young age and studied at the Youth Agricultural Village of Kfar Silver from 1964 to 1968. After three years of duty in the Israel Defence Forces, Nissim joined the Faculty of Agriculture at Rehovot (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), where he earned B.Sc. (1974) and M.Sc. (1976) degrees in Animal Science. His thesis, with Prof. H. Tagari, was on the availability for sheep of phosphorus contained in poultry litter.
The International Goat Association promotes goat research and development for the benefit of humankind, to alleviate poverty, to promote prosperity and to improve the quality of life.