Tradeoff between travel speed and olfactory food detection in ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua)

Hirsch, Ben T. (2010) Tradeoff between travel speed and olfactory food detection in ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua). Ethology, 116 (7). pp. 671-679.

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Abstract

The distance at which an animal can detect food has important ramifications for foraging behavior. Although some studies have investigated the factors which affect visual food detection, very little is known about what influences olfactory food detection abilities in wild animals. The food discovery behavior of ring-tailed coatis (Nasua nasua) was studied using experimental fruit plots. Coatis primarily used olfaction to detect these new food sources, and visual food discovery appeared plausible in only five of 148 trials. Coatis detected the fruit from longer distances when traveling compared with when foraging for invertebrates in the leaf litter. Travel speed had a negative effect on discovery distance. Coatis traveling slowly detected the fruit plots from further away, which demonstrated a tradeoff between speed and food detection. If this tradeoff is biologically important, slower groups should have visited more fruit trees per day, so data taken during full-day coati group follows were analyzed to determine whether this pattern occurred. Slower moving groups visited more fruit trees than faster groups once confounding factors such as daily travel distance, group identity, group spread, and year were controlled for. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that coatis exhibit a speed-accuracy tradeoff for olfactory food detection. This tradeoff appears to be an important factor influencing the movement ecology of animal groups.

Item ID: 44257
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1439-0310
Funders: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Projects and Grants: NSF grant BCS-0314525
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2016 04:54
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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