Adjusting foraging strategies: a comparison of rural and urban common mynas (Acridotheres tristis)

Federspiel, Ira G., Garland, Alexis, Guez, David, Bugnyar, Thomas, Healy, Susan D., Güntürkün, Onur, and Griffin, Andrea S. (2017) Adjusting foraging strategies: a comparison of rural and urban common mynas (Acridotheres tristis). Animal Cognition, 20 (1). pp. 65-74.

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Abstract

Establishment in urbanized environments is associated with changes in physiology, behaviour, and problem-solving. We compared the speed of learning in urban and rural female common mynas, Acridotheres tristis, using a standard visual discrimination task followed by a reversal learning phase. We also examined how quickly each bird progressed through different stages of learning, including sampling and acquisition within both initial and reversal learning, and persistence following reversal. Based on their reliance on very different food resources, we expected urban mynas to learn and reversal learn more quickly but to sample new contingencies for proportionately longer before learning them. When quantified from first presentation to criterion achievement, urban mynas took more 20-trial blocks to learn the initial discrimination, as well as the reversed contingency, than rural mynas. More detailed analyses at the level of stage revealed that this was because urban mynas explored the novel cue-outcome contingencies for longer, and despite transitioning faster through subsequent acquisition, remained overall slower than rural females. Our findings draw attention to fine adjustments in learning strategies in response to urbanization and caution against interpreting the speed to learn a task as a reflection of cognitive ability.

Item ID: 48027
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1435-9456
Keywords: behavioural flexibility; reversal learning; discrimination learning; urbanisation; rural birds; Indian Myna
Additional Information:

This article is part of the Special Issue: Animal cognition in a human-dominated world.

Projects and Grants: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IRSES research staff exchange grant, Gu227/16-1, FWF grant Y366-B17
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2017 00:29
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1702 Cognitive Science > 170299 Cognitive Science not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences @ 50%
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