Decision-making by bushveld gerbils (Gerbilliscus leucogaster)

Rymer, Tasmin L., Cruise, Megan, and Pillay, Neville (2020) Decision-making by bushveld gerbils (Gerbilliscus leucogaster). Journal of Comparative Psychology. (In Press)

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Abstract

Decision-making reflects an individual’s behavioral motivation, shaped by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. We investigated the motivation and decision-making to forage in captive bushveld gerbils (Gerbilliscus leucogaster) using an individually tailored experimental protocol. Individual gerbils were subjected to 4 experiments, where we assessed behavior and decision-making in response to: (a) food quality when resources were clumped (Experiment 1), (b) food quality when resources were scattered (Experiment 2), (c) changing food distribution (clumped vs. scattered; Experiment 3), and (d) predation risk. Each experiment comprised 4 treatments, where both cost (a weighted door) and incentive (preferred vs. nonpreferred seeds; clumped vs. scattered seeds) varied according to the mass and personal preferences of individual gerbils. We counted the number of seeds eaten, assessed the frequency of door usage, and measured the duration of exploration, vigilance, and foraging (as a proportion of total time) of gerbils in each experiment. Gerbils showed individual preferences for different seed types although all preferred sunflower or sorghum seeds. Generally, gerbils ate more seeds and used the door more frequently when the costs were low. Similarly, gerbils tended to forage more when the costs were low and predation risk was low. We also found that males, in general, were more vigilant than females in Experiments 3 and 4, likely because of risk of intrasexual competition over a high-resource patch. There was considerable individual variation in behavior, but there was also consistency in most behaviors, indicating that individual gerbils perform consistently differently to other gerbils.

Item ID: 66560
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0735-7036
Keywords: consistency, decision-making, flexibility, foraging, motivation
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Copyright Information: © 2020 APA, all rights reserved.
Funders: National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand (UW)
Projects and Grants: NRF Grant number: 80567
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2021 02:56
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 60%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310914 Vertebrate biology @ 20%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310999 Zoology not elsewhere classified @ 20%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 70%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology @ 30%
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