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Urban cognition

Characterizing traits that enable successful animals to thrive in urban habitats will help to illuminate the determinants of successful adaptation to human-induced rapid environmental change (HIREC; Sih et al., 2011), as well as allowing more effective mitigation strategies of the impact on anthropogenic destruction.

Innovation - the ability to produce new behaviours or to apply novel solutions to old problems (e.g. Kummer & Goodall, 1985; Reader & Laland, 2003) - has been proposed as a major predictor to the successful establishment and permanency in novel or altered habitats (e.g. Sol et al., 2002, 2013). Therefore, it might be a key trait in adapting to and persisting in urban landscapes (e.g. Ducatez et al., 2020; Sih, 2013; Sol, 2009).

In this ongoing project, we investigate among-individual variation in behavioural flexibility and innovation propensity in various small mammals species. Directly in the wild and on a completely voluntary basis.

Project members

Dr. Valeria Mazza

Dr. Annika Schirmer

Prof. Dr. Jana Eccard


Dammhahn M, Mazza V, Schirmer A, Göttsche C, Eccard JA. (2020) Of city and village mice: behavioural adjustments of striped field mice to urban environments. Scientific reports 2020 10(1):1-12.

Mazza V  & Guenther A (2021) City mice and country mice: innovative problem-solving in rural and urban non-commensal rodents. Animal Behaviour 172(1).

Mazza V, Czyperreck I, Eccard, J A & Dammhahn, M (2021) Cross-context responses to novelty in rural and urban small mammals. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9:661971.