Preference for spatial cues in a non-storing songbird species

ZG Hodgson, Susan Denise Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Male mammals typically outperforrn their conspecific females on spatial tasks. A sex difference in cues used to solve the task could underlie this performance difference as spatial ability is reliant on appropriate cue use. Although comparative studies of memory in food-storing and non-storing birds have examined species differences in cue preference, few studies have investigated differences in cue use within a species. In this study, we used a one-trial associative food-finding task to test for sex differences in cue use in the great tit, Parus major. Birds were trained to locate a food reward hidden in a well covered by a coloured cloth. To determine whether the colour of the cloth or the location of the well was learned during training, the birds were presented with three wells in the test phase: one in the original location, but covered by a cloth of a novel colour, a second in a new location covered with the original cloth and a third in a new location covered by a differently coloured cloth. Both sexes preferentially visited the well in the training location rather than either alternative. As great tits prefer colour cues over spatial cues in one-trial associative conditioning tasks, cue preference appears to be related to the task type rather than being species dependent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-214
Number of pages4
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005

Keywords

  • cue preference
  • food-storing
  • great tit
  • sex differences
  • spatial memory
  • SEX-DIFFERENCES
  • DOMESTIC CHICKS
  • DEER MICE
  • MEMORY
  • HIPPOCAMPUS
  • FEMALES
  • TESTOSTERONE
  • INFORMATION
  • ENVIRONMENT
  • MALES

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