Win-shift and win-stay learning in the short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
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Numerous previous investigators have explained species differences in spatial memory performance in terms of differences in foraging ecology. In three experiments we attempted to extend these findings by examining the extent to which the spatial memory performance of echidnas (or "spiny anteaters") can be understood in terms of the spatio-temporal distribution of their prey (ants and termites). This is a species and a foraging situation that have not been examined in this way before. Echidnas were better able to learn to avoid a previously rewarding location (to "win-shift") than to learn to return to a previously rewarding location (to "win-stay"), at short retention intervals, but were unable to learn either of these strategies at retention intervals of 90 min. The short retention interval results support the ecological hypothesis, but the long retention interval results do not.
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