Dr Alex Thornton
Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Evolution

Key publications | Publications by category | Publications by year

Key publications



Zwirner E, Thornton A (2015). Cognitive requirements of cumulative culture: teaching is useful but not essential. Sci Rep, 5 Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Aplin LM, Farine DR, Morand-Ferron J, Cockburn A, Thornton A, Sheldon BC (2015). Experimentally induced innovations lead to persistent culture via conformity in wild birds. Nature, 518(7540), 538-541. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Clayton NS, Phalan B, Thornton A (2014). Comparative cognition for conservationists. Trends Ecol Evol, 29(9), 489-495. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Lukas D (2012). Individual variation in cognitive performance: developmental and evolutionary perspectives. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 367(1603), 2773-2783. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Samson J (2012). Innovative problem solving in wild meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 83(6), 1459-1468. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A, Clutton-Brock T (2011). Social learning and the development of individual and group behaviour in mammal societies. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 366(1567), 978-987. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.

Publications by category


Journal articles

Valletta J, Torney C, Kings M, Thornton A, Madden J (2017). Applications of machine learning in animal behaviour studies. Animal Behaviour Full text. DOI.
Davidson GL, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2017). Evolution of iris colour in relation to cavity nesting and parental care in passerine birds. Biology Letters, 13, 20160783-20160783. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, McIvor GE, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2016). Contagious risk taking: social information and context influence wild jackdaws' responses to novelty and risk. Sci Rep, 6 Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, McAuliffe K, Dall SRX, Fernandez-Duque E, Garber PA, Young AJ (2016). Fundamental Problems with the Cooperative Breeding Hypothesis. A reply to Burkart & Van Schaik. Journal of Zoology, 299(2), 84-88. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2016). Harnessing learning biases is essential for applying social learning in conservation. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71, 16-16. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Jolles JW, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2016). Seasonal changes in neophobia and its consistency in rooks: the effect of novelty type and dominance position. Animal Behaviour, 121, 11-20. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Clayton NS, Fulford AJC, Thornton A (2016). Street smart: faster approach towards litter in urban areas by highly neophobic corvids and less fearful birds. Animal Behaviour, 117, 123-133. Full text. DOI.
Mesoudi A, Chang L, Dall SRX, Thornton A (2016). The evolution of individual and cultural variation in social learning. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 31(3), 215-225. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Spencer KA, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2016). Wild jackdaws’ reproductive success and their offspring’s stress hormones are connected to provisioning rate and brood size, not to parental neophobia. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 243, 70-77. Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Mcauliffe K (2015). Cognitive consequences of cooperative breeding? a critical appraisal. Journal of Zoology, 295(1), 12-22. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Zwirner E, Thornton A (2015). Cognitive requirements of cumulative culture: teaching is useful but not essential. Sci Rep, 5 Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Aplin LM, Farine DR, Morand-Ferron J, Cockburn A, Thornton A, Sheldon BC (2015). Counting conformity: evaluating the units of information in frequency-dependent social learning. ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 110, E5-E8. Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Duffield C, Wilson AJ, Thornton A (2015). Desperate Prawns: Drivers of Behavioural Innovation Vary across Social Contexts in Rock Pool Crustaceans. PLoS One, 10(10). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Aplin LM, Farine DR, Morand-Ferron J, Cockburn A, Thornton A, Sheldon BC (2015). Experimentally induced innovations lead to persistent culture via conformity in wild birds. Nature, 518(7540), 538-541. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Wilson A (2015). In search of the Darwinian Holy Trinity in cognitive evolution: a comment on Croston et al. Behavioral Ecology, 26(6), 1460-1461. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2015). Neophobia is not only avoidance: Improving neophobia tests by combining cognition and ecology. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 6, 82-89. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Raihani NJ (2015). The proximate-ultimate confusion in teaching and cooperation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38 Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Mcauliffe K, Thornton A (2015). The psychology of cooperation in animals: an ecological approach. Journal of Zoology, 295(1), 23-35. Abstract. DOI.
Davidson GL, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2015). Wild jackdaws, Corvus monedula, recognize individual humans and may respond to gaze direction with defensive behaviour. Animal Behaviour, 108, 17-24. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Clayton NS, Phalan B, Thornton A (2014). Comparative cognition for conservationists. Trends Ecol Evol, 29(9), 489-495. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Davidson GL, Butler S, Fernández-Juricic E, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2014). Gaze sensitivity: Function and mechanisms from sensory and cognitive perspectives. Animal Behaviour, 87(C), 3-15. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A (2014). How and why are some species so smart? a comment on Rowe and Healy. Behavioral Ecology, 25(6), 1294-1295. Full text. DOI.
Zandberg L, Jolles JW, Boogert NJ, Thornton A (2014). Jackdaw nestlings can discriminate between conspecific calls but do not beg specifically to their parents. Behavioral Ecology, 25(3), 565-573. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Davidson GL, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2014). Salient eyes deter conspecific nest intruders in wild jackdaws (Corvus monedula). Biol Lett, 10(2). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Isden J, Madden JR (2014). Toward wild psychometrics: Linking individual cognitive differences to fitness. Behavioral Ecology, 25(6), 1299-1301. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Clayton NS, Phalan B, Thornton A (2014). Translating cognitive insights into effective conservation programs: reply to Schakner et al. Trends Ecol Evol, 29(12), 652-653. Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Jolles JW, King AJ, Manica A, Thornton A (2013). Heterogeneous structure in mixed-species corvid flocks in flight. Animal Behaviour, 85(4), 743-750. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Clayton NS, Grodzinski U (2012). Animal minds: from computation to evolution. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 367(1603), 2670-2676. Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
McAuliffe K, Thornton A (2012). How do banded mongooses locate and select anvils for cracking encased food items?. BEHAVIOURAL PROCESSES, 90(3), 350-356. Author URL. DOI.
Hoppitt W, Samson J, Laland KN, Thornton A (2012). Identification of Learning Mechanisms in a Wild Meerkat Population. PLOS ONE, 7(8). Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Lukas D (2012). Individual variation in cognitive performance: developmental and evolutionary perspectives. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 367(1603), 2773-2783. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Samson J (2012). Innovative problem solving in wild meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 83(6), 1459-1468. Abstract. DOI.
Raihani NJ, Thornton A, Bshary R (2012). Punishment and cooperation in nature. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 27(5), 288-295. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A, McAuliffe K (2012). Teaching can teach us a lot. Animal Behaviour, 83(4). Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Clutton-Brock T (2011). Social learning and the development of individual and group behaviour in mammal societies. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 366(1567), 978-987. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Raihani NJ (2010). Identifying teaching in wild animals. LEARNING & BEHAVIOR, 38(3), 297-309. Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Samson J, Clutton-Brock T (2010). Multi-generational persistence of traditions in neighbouring meerkat groups. Proc Biol Sci, 277(1700), 3623-3629. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Malapert A (2009). Experimental evidence for social transmission of food acquisition techniques in wild meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 78(2), 255-264. Abstract. DOI.
Hodge SJ, Thornton A, Flower TP, Clutton-Brock TH (2009). Food limitation increases aggression in juvenile meerkats. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, 20(5), 930-935. Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Hodge SJ (2009). The development of foraging microhabitat preferences in meerkats. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, 20(1), 103-110. Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Malapert A (2009). The rise and fall of an arbitrary tradition: an experiment with wild meerkats. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1660), 1269-1276. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A, Malapert A (2009). The rise and fall of an arbitrary tradition: an experiment with wild meerkats. Proc Biol Sci, 276(1660), 1269-1276. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A (2008). Early body condition, time budgets and the acquisition of foraging skills in meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 75(3), 951-962. Abstract. DOI.
Hoppitt WJE, Brown GR, Kendal R, Rendell L, Thornton A, Webster MM, Laland KN (2008). Lessons from animal teaching. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 23(9), 486-493. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A (2008). Social learning about novel foods in young meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 76(4), 1411-1421. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A, Raihani NJ (2008). The evolution of teaching. Animal Behaviour, 75(6), 1823-1836. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A (2008). Variation in contributions to teaching by meerkats. Proc Biol Sci, 275(1644), 1745-1751. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Raihani NJ, Radford AN (2007). Teachers in the wild: some clarification. TRENDS IN COGNITIVE SCIENCES, 11(7), 272-273. Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, McAuliffe K (2006). Kalahari classrooms: How meerkats teach pups to hunt. Planet Earth(WINTER 2006), 20-21. Abstract.
Thornton A, McAuliffe K (2006). Teaching in wild meerkats. SCIENCE, 313(5784), 227-229. Author URL. DOI.

Chapters

Greggor AL, Thornton A (2016). Convergent evolution of animal intelligence. In Shackleford TA, Weekes-Shackleford VA (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, Springer International Publishing, 1-7.  Full text.
Thornton A, Clutton-Brock T (2012). Social learning and the development of individual and group behaviour in mammal societies. In Whiten A, Hinde RA, Stringer CB, Laland KN (Eds.) Culture Evolves, Oxford University Press, USA, 71-87.

Publications by year



2017

Valletta J, Torney C, Kings M, Thornton A, Madden J (2017). Applications of machine learning in animal behaviour studies. Animal Behaviour Full text. DOI.
Davidson GL, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2017). Evolution of iris colour in relation to cavity nesting and parental care in passerine birds. Biology Letters, 13, 20160783-20160783. Full text. DOI.

2016

Greggor AL, McIvor GE, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2016). Contagious risk taking: social information and context influence wild jackdaws' responses to novelty and risk. Sci Rep, 6 Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Thornton A (2016). Convergent evolution of animal intelligence. In Shackleford TA, Weekes-Shackleford VA (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science, Springer International Publishing, 1-7.  Full text.
Thornton A, McAuliffe K, Dall SRX, Fernandez-Duque E, Garber PA, Young AJ (2016). Fundamental Problems with the Cooperative Breeding Hypothesis. A reply to Burkart & Van Schaik. Journal of Zoology, 299(2), 84-88. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2016). Harnessing learning biases is essential for applying social learning in conservation. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71, 16-16. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Jolles JW, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2016). Seasonal changes in neophobia and its consistency in rooks: the effect of novelty type and dominance position. Animal Behaviour, 121, 11-20. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Clayton NS, Fulford AJC, Thornton A (2016). Street smart: faster approach towards litter in urban areas by highly neophobic corvids and less fearful birds. Animal Behaviour, 117, 123-133. Full text. DOI.
Mesoudi A, Chang L, Dall SRX, Thornton A (2016). The evolution of individual and cultural variation in social learning. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 31(3), 215-225. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Spencer KA, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2016). Wild jackdaws’ reproductive success and their offspring’s stress hormones are connected to provisioning rate and brood size, not to parental neophobia. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 243, 70-77. Full text. DOI.

2015

Thornton A, Mcauliffe K (2015). Cognitive consequences of cooperative breeding? a critical appraisal. Journal of Zoology, 295(1), 12-22. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Zwirner E, Thornton A (2015). Cognitive requirements of cumulative culture: teaching is useful but not essential. Sci Rep, 5 Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Aplin LM, Farine DR, Morand-Ferron J, Cockburn A, Thornton A, Sheldon BC (2015). Counting conformity: evaluating the units of information in frequency-dependent social learning. ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR, 110, E5-E8. Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Duffield C, Wilson AJ, Thornton A (2015). Desperate Prawns: Drivers of Behavioural Innovation Vary across Social Contexts in Rock Pool Crustaceans. PLoS One, 10(10). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Aplin LM, Farine DR, Morand-Ferron J, Cockburn A, Thornton A, Sheldon BC (2015). Experimentally induced innovations lead to persistent culture via conformity in wild birds. Nature, 518(7540), 538-541. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Wilson A (2015). In search of the Darwinian Holy Trinity in cognitive evolution: a comment on Croston et al. Behavioral Ecology, 26(6), 1460-1461. Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2015). Neophobia is not only avoidance: Improving neophobia tests by combining cognition and ecology. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 6, 82-89. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Raihani NJ (2015). The proximate-ultimate confusion in teaching and cooperation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38 Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Mcauliffe K, Thornton A (2015). The psychology of cooperation in animals: an ecological approach. Journal of Zoology, 295(1), 23-35. Abstract. DOI.
Davidson GL, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2015). Wild jackdaws, Corvus monedula, recognize individual humans and may respond to gaze direction with defensive behaviour. Animal Behaviour, 108, 17-24. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.

2014

Greggor AL, Clayton NS, Phalan B, Thornton A (2014). Comparative cognition for conservationists. Trends Ecol Evol, 29(9), 489-495. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Davidson GL, Butler S, Fernández-Juricic E, Thornton A, Clayton NS (2014). Gaze sensitivity: Function and mechanisms from sensory and cognitive perspectives. Animal Behaviour, 87(C), 3-15. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A (2014). How and why are some species so smart? a comment on Rowe and Healy. Behavioral Ecology, 25(6), 1294-1295. Full text. DOI.
Zandberg L, Jolles JW, Boogert NJ, Thornton A (2014). Jackdaw nestlings can discriminate between conspecific calls but do not beg specifically to their parents. Behavioral Ecology, 25(3), 565-573. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Davidson GL, Clayton NS, Thornton A (2014). Salient eyes deter conspecific nest intruders in wild jackdaws (Corvus monedula). Biol Lett, 10(2). Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Isden J, Madden JR (2014). Toward wild psychometrics: Linking individual cognitive differences to fitness. Behavioral Ecology, 25(6), 1299-1301. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.
Greggor AL, Clayton NS, Phalan B, Thornton A (2014). Translating cognitive insights into effective conservation programs: reply to Schakner et al. Trends Ecol Evol, 29(12), 652-653. Author URL.  Full text. DOI.

2013

Jolles JW, King AJ, Manica A, Thornton A (2013). Heterogeneous structure in mixed-species corvid flocks in flight. Animal Behaviour, 85(4), 743-750. Abstract.  Full text. DOI.

2012

Thornton A, Clayton NS, Grodzinski U (2012). Animal minds: from computation to evolution. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 367(1603), 2670-2676. Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
McAuliffe K, Thornton A (2012). How do banded mongooses locate and select anvils for cracking encased food items?. BEHAVIOURAL PROCESSES, 90(3), 350-356. Author URL. DOI.
Hoppitt W, Samson J, Laland KN, Thornton A (2012). Identification of Learning Mechanisms in a Wild Meerkat Population. PLOS ONE, 7(8). Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Lukas D (2012). Individual variation in cognitive performance: developmental and evolutionary perspectives. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 367(1603), 2773-2783. Abstract.  Author URL.  Full text. DOI.
Thornton A, Samson J (2012). Innovative problem solving in wild meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 83(6), 1459-1468. Abstract. DOI.
Raihani NJ, Thornton A, Bshary R (2012). Punishment and cooperation in nature. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 27(5), 288-295. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A, Clutton-Brock T (2012). Social learning and the development of individual and group behaviour in mammal societies. In Whiten A, Hinde RA, Stringer CB, Laland KN (Eds.) Culture Evolves, Oxford University Press, USA, 71-87.
Thornton A, McAuliffe K (2012). Teaching can teach us a lot. Animal Behaviour, 83(4). Full text. DOI.

2011

Thornton A, Clutton-Brock T (2011). Social learning and the development of individual and group behaviour in mammal societies. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 366(1567), 978-987. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.

2010

Thornton A, Raihani NJ (2010). Identifying teaching in wild animals. LEARNING & BEHAVIOR, 38(3), 297-309. Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Samson J, Clutton-Brock T (2010). Multi-generational persistence of traditions in neighbouring meerkat groups. Proc Biol Sci, 277(1700), 3623-3629. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.

2009

Thornton A, Malapert A (2009). Experimental evidence for social transmission of food acquisition techniques in wild meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 78(2), 255-264. Abstract. DOI.
Hodge SJ, Thornton A, Flower TP, Clutton-Brock TH (2009). Food limitation increases aggression in juvenile meerkats. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, 20(5), 930-935. Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Hodge SJ (2009). The development of foraging microhabitat preferences in meerkats. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY, 20(1), 103-110. Author URL. DOI.
Thornton A, Malapert A (2009). The rise and fall of an arbitrary tradition: an experiment with wild meerkats. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1660), 1269-1276. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A, Malapert A (2009). The rise and fall of an arbitrary tradition: an experiment with wild meerkats. Proc Biol Sci, 276(1660), 1269-1276. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.

2008

Thornton A (2008). Early body condition, time budgets and the acquisition of foraging skills in meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 75(3), 951-962. Abstract. DOI.
Hoppitt WJE, Brown GR, Kendal R, Rendell L, Thornton A, Webster MM, Laland KN (2008). Lessons from animal teaching. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 23(9), 486-493. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A (2008). Social learning about novel foods in young meerkats. Animal Behaviour, 76(4), 1411-1421. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A, Raihani NJ (2008). The evolution of teaching. Animal Behaviour, 75(6), 1823-1836. Abstract. DOI.
Thornton A (2008). Variation in contributions to teaching by meerkats. Proc Biol Sci, 275(1644), 1745-1751. Abstract.  Author URL. DOI.

2007

Thornton A, Raihani NJ, Radford AN (2007). Teachers in the wild: some clarification. TRENDS IN COGNITIVE SCIENCES, 11(7), 272-273. Author URL. DOI.

2006

Thornton A, McAuliffe K (2006). Kalahari classrooms: How meerkats teach pups to hunt. Planet Earth(WINTER 2006), 20-21. Abstract.
Thornton A, McAuliffe K (2006). Teaching in wild meerkats. SCIENCE, 313(5784), 227-229. Author URL. DOI.