The mother-young relationships

We also characterize maternal behavioural and describe maternal styles to understand the mechanisms involved in maternal influence and/or transmission. We also develop researches on animal-robot interactions, using the robot as a maternal or social substitute to understand the non-genetic influences on development.

The mother-young relationships
  1. Variability of maternal care and evidence of maternal styles
  2. Animal-robot interactions
  3. Highlights

Variability of maternal care and evidence of maternal styles

To evaluate the ways mothers' behaviour influences their offspring's behavioural development, we focus on the individual variability of quail's maternal behaviour.

Stability of individual differences: evidence of matenal styles

We monitor the ontogeny of maternal behaviour at the individual level by studying the effects of  variation factors that include factors related to experience (during early life or during adulthood) and of intrinsic factors (genotype, temperament, age…) on the maternal responses of females when adult.

Maternal behaviour and emotional reactivity

We also study the interindividual variability of maternal care. As individual differences are consistent over several breeding periods we could  evidence, for the first time, birds' maternal styles that present strong similarities with the maternal styles of mammalian species.

Animal-robot interactions

By integrating robots into groups of young birds, we aim to control precisely the behaviour of one of the partners involved in familial relationships.

Mobile heating autonomous robot

We seek to establish a relationship between  an animal and the robot beyond social interactions, in order to be able to manipulate the behavioural characteristics of the robot to detect mechanisms influencing the development of young people. Our research focuses in particular on the development of the  spatial behavior of young animals.

Prototype rotational stereo videography



  1. Mothers are more or less maternal according to their individual behavioural traits and experience: Fearful females or non-brooded females are the most abusive, and older females or those who have been mothered are less rejective and less abusive.
  2. Individual differences of quail's maternal behaviour remain consistent over several breeding periods. We evidence two main dimensions of quail's maternal styles discriminating between aggressive mothers and rejecting mothers.
  3. An autonomous robot influences the spatial behaviour development of quail. Quail experiencing the presence of a mobile robot during their first 10 days of life subsequently solve a spatial detour task more easily than quail reared with a static robot (de Margerie et al. 2011). Similar spatial skill differences have been evidenced between brooded and non-brooded quail (de Margerie et al. 2013).
  4. The path of free-ranging animals can be tracked in 3 dimensions, with a better precision than when using GPS, and without the need to tag animals (de Margerie et al. 2015). This optical tracking method, developed in our laboratory and coined RSV (Rotational Stereo Videography), finds applications in many fields of biology (behaviour, ecology, biomechanics).