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Memory decay and cache site preferences in hoarding coal tits - A laboratory study

Lookup NU author(s): Lucinda Male, Dr Tom SmuldersORCiD



Many animals use hoarding as a long-term strategy to ensure a food supply at times of shortage. This study explores the respective roles of memory and site preferences in cache recovery by coal tits (Periparus ater). We compared the retrieval accuracy or foraging efficiency of the cacher itself ('caching coal tit'), a naive conspecific ('pilfering coal tit') and a non-hoarding heterospecific ('pilfering great tit'; Parus major) after six different retention intervals. Our experiment shows that the persistence of the coal tits' memory is up to 4 weeks in the laboratory. Species specific storage and foraging site preferences enhance cache recovery after longer intervals. We find no evidence for individual-specific preferences. Pilfering great tits are capable of learning the coal tits' hoarding preferences. This ability may affect coal tits' hoarding behaviour in more natural conditions as they frequently forage in mixed flocks with great tits. © 2007 Brill Academic Publishers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Male LH, Smulders TV

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Behaviour

Year: 2007

Volume: 144

Issue: 6

Pages: 693-710

Date deposited: 08/09/2010

ISSN (print): 0005-7959

ISSN (electronic): 1568-539X

Publisher: Brill


DOI: 10.1163/156853907781347808


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