Animal Cognition

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 311–318 | Cite as

On the border: perimeter patrolling as a transitional exploratory phase in a diurnal rodent, the fat sand rat (Psammomys obesus)

Original Paper

Abstract

Exploration is an initial phase of constructing spatial representation. In an illuminated environment, exploration by nocturnal rodents takes the form of home-base behavior, with the rodents organizing their activity in relation to the base, repeatedly orienting and returning to it. In the dark, home base behavior in gerbils is preceded by looping exploration, in which travel paths tangle into loops that close at various locations so that the gerbils pilot from one loop to the next. In the present study we tested a diurnal gerbil, the fat sand rat, Psammomys obesus, in both a lit and a dark open field in order to compare its exploratory behavior with that of nocturnal rodents. We found that under lit conditions, fat sand rats used perimeter patrolling, traveling mainly along the walls of the open field. In perimeter patrolling the animal probably monitors its location in relation to the perimeter (arena walls), and not to a specific location as in home base. In the dark, fat sand rats first used looping, and gradually shifted to perimeter patrolling exploration. We suggest that perimeter patrolling is a transient phase in which the animal evaluates possible locations for a home base. Thus, perimeter patrolling is an intermediate phase between looping, which is based on piloting from one landmark to the next, and home base exploration, in which the animal continuously orients to a specific location. This spatial behavior of perimeter patrolling may shed light on phases of information processing and spatial representation during exploration and navigation.

Keywords

Cognitive map Home base Navigation Orientation Systematic search 

References

  1. Alyan SH (1996) Evidence for resetting the directional component of path integration in the house mouse (Mus musculus). Ethology 102:629–638CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Avni R, Zadicario P, Eilam D (2006) Exploration in a dark open field: a shift from directional to positional progression and a proposed model of acquiring spatial information. Behav Brain Res 171:313–323PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bekoff M (1995) Cognitive ethology, vigilance, information gathering, and representation: who might know what and why?. Behav Process 35:225–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Birke LIA, D’Udine B, Albonetti ME (1985) Exploratory behavior of two species of murid rodents, Acomys cahirinus and Mus musculus: a comparative study. Behav Neural Biol 43:143–161PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brillhart DB, Kaufman DW (1991) Influence of illumination and surface structure on space use by prairie deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus bairdii). J Mammal 72:764–768CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown JS, Kotler BP, Smith RJ, Wirtz WO (1988) The effects of owl predation on the foraging behavior of heteromyid rodents. Oecologia 76:408–415Google Scholar
  7. Buskilla Y (1983) Chapters in the biology and behavior of the stripped hyaena, Hyaena hyaena syriaca, in S’de Boker. Ministry of Culture and EducationGoogle Scholar
  8. Chevret P, Dobigny G (2005) Systematics and evolution of the subfamily Gerbillinae (Mammalia, Rodentia, Muridae). Mol Phylogenet Evol 35:674–688PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark BJ, Hamilton DA, Whishaw IQ (2006) Motor activity (exploration) and formation of home bases in mice (c57bl/6) influenced by visual and tactile cues: modification of movement distribution, distance, location, and speed. Physiol Behav 87:805–816PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Conradt L, Bodsworth EJ, Roper TJ, Thomas CD (2000) Non-random dispersal in the butterfly Maniola jurtinaI: implications for metapopulation models. Proc R Soc B Biol 267:1505–1510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Conradt L, Zollner PA, Roper TJ, Frank K, Thomas CD (2003) Foray search: an effective systematic dispersal strategy in fragmented landscapes. Am Nat 161:905–915PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Daly M, Daly S (1973) On the feeding ecology of Psammomys obesus (Rodentia, Gerbillidae) in the Wadi Saoura, Algeria. Mammalia 37:545–561Google Scholar
  13. Daly M, Daly S (1975) Behavior of Psammomys obesus (Rodentia: Gerbillinae) in the Algerian Sahara. Z Tierpsychol 37:298–321Google Scholar
  14. Drai D, Kafkafi N, Benjamini Y, Elmer G, Golani I (2001) Rats and mice share common ethologically relevant parameters of exploratory behavior. Behav Brain Res 125:133–140PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dussutour A, Deneubourg J, Fourcassié V (2005) Amplification of individual preferences in a social context: the case of wall-following in ants. Proc R Soc B Biol 272:705–714CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eilam D (2003) Open-field behavior withstands drastic changes in arena size. Behav Brain Res 142:53–62PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eilam D (2004) Locomotor activity in common spiny mice (Acomys cahirinuse): The effect of light and environmental complexity. BMC Ecol 4:16PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eilam D, Golani I (1989) Home base behavior of rats (Rattus norvegicus) exploring a novel environment. Behav Brain Res 34:199–211PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Eilam D, Golani I (1990) Home base behavior in amphetamine-treated tame wild rats (Rattus norvegicus). Behav Brain Res 36:161–170PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eilam D, Golani I, Szechtman H (1989) d-2-agonist quinpirole induces preservation of routes and hyperactivity but no preservation of movements. Brain Res 490:255–267PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Geyer MA, Russo PV, Masten VL (1986) Multivariate assessment of locomotor behavior: pharmacological and behavioral analyses. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 25:277–288PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Graham P, Collett T (2002) View-based navigation in insects: how wood ants (Formica rufa L.) look at and are guided by extended landmarks. J Exp Biol 205:2499–2509PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Greenberg G (1986) Depth perception in in mogolian gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus) and spiny mice (Acomys russatus and A. cahirinus). J Comp Psychol 100:81–84PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harrison DL, Bates PJJ (1991) The mammals of Arabia. Harrison Zoological Museum, KentGoogle Scholar
  25. Hines DJ, Whishaw IQ (2005) Home bases formed to visual cues but not to self-movement (dead reckoning) cues in exploring hippocampectomized rats. Eur J Neurosci 22:2363–2375PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hoffmann G (1983) The search behavior of the desert isopod Hemilepistus reaumuri as compared with a systematic search. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 13:93–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hoffman C, Timberlake W, Leffel J, Gont R (1999) How is radial arm maze behavior in rats related to locomotor search tactics. Anim Learn Behav. 27:426–444Google Scholar
  28. Ilan M, Yom-Tov Y (1990) Diel activity of a diurnal rodent, Psammomys obesus. J Mammal 71:66–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jacobs GH, Neitz J (1989) Cone monochromacy and a reversed Purkinje shift in the gerbil. Experimentia 45:317–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jacobs GH, Neitz J (1994) Sensitivity to ultraviolet light in the gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus): characteristics and mechanisms. Vision Res 34:1433–1441PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jacobs LF, Schenk F (2003) Unpacking the cognitive map: the parallel map theory of hippocampal function. Psychol Rev 110:285–315PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jeanson R, Blanco S, Fournier R, Deneubourg J, Fourcassie V, Theraulaz G (2003) A model of animal movements in a bounded space. J Theor Biol 225:443–451PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kramer DL, McLaughlin RL (2001) The behavioral ecology of intermittent locomotion. Am Zool 41:137–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lorenz K (1952) King Solomon’s ring: new light on animals ways. Meridian Books (Penguin), New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Maaswinkel H, Whishaw IQ (1999) Homing with locale, taxon, and dead reckoning strategies by foraging rats: sensory hierarchy in spatial navigation. Behav Brain Res 99:143–152PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McAdam AG, Kramer DL (1998) Vigilance as a benefit of intermittent locomotion in small mammals. Anim Behav 55:109–117PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mendelssohn H, Yom-Tov Y (1999) Fauna Palaestina: mammalia of Israel. Keterpress Enterprises, JerusalemGoogle Scholar
  38. Nasello AG, Machado C, Bastos JF, Felicio LF (1998) Sudden darkness induces a high activity-low anxiety state in male and female rats. Physiol Behav 63:451–454PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. O’Keefe J, Nadel L (1978) The hippocampus as a cognitive map. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  40. Pratt S, Brooks S, Franks N (2001) The use of edges in visual navigation by the ant Leptothorax albipennis. Ethology 107:1125–1136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Price MV, Waser NM, Bass TA (1984) Effects of moonlight on microhabitate use by desert rodents. J Mammal 65:353–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tchabovsky AV, Krasnov BR (2002) Spatial distribution of Psammomys obesus (Rodentia, Gerbillinae) in relation to vegetation in the Negev desert of Israel. Mammalia 66:361–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tchabovsky AV, Krasnov BR, Khokhlova IS, Shenbrot GI (2001a) The effect of vegetation cover on vigilance and foraging tactics in the fat sand rat Psammomys obesus. J Ethol 19:105–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tchabovsky AV, Popov SV, Krasnov BR (2001b) Intra- and interspecific variation in vigilance and foraging of two gerbillid rodents, Rhombomys opimus and Psammomys obesus: the effect of social environment. Anim Behav 62:965–972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vasquez RA (1996) Path utilization by three species of Chilean rodents differing in body size and mode of locomotion a. Ecology 77:2343–2351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Vasquez RA, Ebensperger LA, Bozinovic F (2002) The influence of habitat on travel speed, intermittent locomotion, and vigilance in a diurnal rodent. Behav Ecol 13:182–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Walsh RN, Cummins RA (1976) The open field test: a critical review. Psychol Bull 83:482–504PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wehner R, Srinivasan MV (1981) Searching behaviour of desert ants, Genus Cataglyphis (Formicidae, Hymenoptera). J Comp Physiol A 142:315–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zadicario P, Avni R, Zadicario E, Eilam D (2005) ‘Looping’––an exploration mechanism in a dark open field. Behav Brain Res 159:27–36PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology Tel-Aviv UniversityRamat AvivIsrael

Personalised recommendations