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Tool-use in a display behaviour by Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber)

Abstract

Tool use is rare amongst rodents and has never been recorded in connection with agonistic displays. We witnessed a behaviour, stick display (StD), involving tool use in free-living Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) that we conclude is a display behaviour. Two beavers were the main performers of the signal that was observed in at least six beavers from three families. Beavers reacted to displays by increased evasive and agonistic behaviours compared with their usual behavioural patterns when at territory borders. The behaviour was almost exclusively seen between rivals at territory borders. We suggest that the display is used in agonistic encounters, mainly in a territorial context.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Frode Bergan, Orsolya Bozsér, Jan Herr, Bjørnar Hovde, Bruno Pinto, and Fiona Sharpe for assistance in the field, and Jon M. Arnemo and Birgit Ranheim for conducting the implant operations, Dr. Paul Johnson for conducting the SAS analyses and four anonymous referees and Alex Weir for helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. The study was financially supported by Telemark University College. The application of radio transmitters and the study procedures comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.

Author information

Correspondence to Frank Rosell.

Electronic supplementary material

"Stick display in beavers" The movie file S1 showing stick display. Two beavers from neighbouring territories are seen displaying at each other at the territory border. The view switches to a close-up of the animal on the right displaying. (WMV 9.42 Mb)

"Stick display in beavers" The movie file S1 showing stick display. Two beavers from neighbouring territories are seen displaying at each other at the territory border. The view switches to a close-up of the animal on the right displaying. (WMV 9.42 Mb)

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Thomsen, L.R., Campbell, R.D. & Rosell, F. Tool-use in a display behaviour by Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber). Anim Cogn 10, 477–482 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-007-0075-6

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Keywords

  • Castor fiber
  • Rodent
  • Tool use
  • Display