Animal Cognition

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 633–641 | Cite as

Comparing black-capped (Poecile atricapillus) and mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli): use of geometric and featural information in a spatial orientation task

  • Emily R. Batty
  • Laurie L. Bloomfield
  • Marcia L. Spetch
  • Christopher B. Sturdy
Original Paper


Since Cheng (Cognition 23:149–178, 1986) first proposed the “geometric module” in rats, a great deal of research has focused on how other species use geometric information and how geometric encoding may differ across species. Here, hand-reared and wild-caught black-capped chickadees and wild-caught mountain chickadees searched for food hidden in one corner in a rectangular environment. Previous research has shown that mountain chickadees do not spontaneously encode geometric information when a salient feature is present near the goal location. Using a slightly different training and testing procedure, we found that both hand-reared and wild-caught black-capped chickadees encoded geometric information, even in the presence of a salient landmark. Some, but not all, mountain chickadees also encoded geometric information. Overall, our results suggest that use of geometric information may be a less preferred strategy for mountain chickadees than for either wild-caught or hand-reared black-capped chickadees. To our knowledge, this is the first direct interspecies comparison of use of geometric information in a spatial orientation task.


Mountain chickadees Black-capped chickadees Geometry Spatial learning Rearing environment 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily R. Batty
    • 1
  • Laurie L. Bloomfield
    • 2
  • Marcia L. Spetch
    • 1
  • Christopher B. Sturdy
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyAlgoma UniversitySault Ste. MarieCanada
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Centre for NeuroscienceUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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