Evaluating the novel-environment test for measurement of exploration by bird species
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Novel-environment tests are the most widespread experimental technique for characterizing exploration, yet detailed evaluation of their performance among species is lacking. We compared the test for eight bird species by combining three well-known metrics of behavior: movement frequency, proportion of features visited, and scanning. In both overall and species-level analysis of our multi-group principal component analysis, all three metrics loaded strongly and similarly on one principal component, explaining comparable ranges of variation. We conclude that novel-environment tests are a robust means of quantifying exploration and that scanning behavior may be an important but under-used metric for exploration behavior.
KeywordsExploratory behavior Novel-environment test Scanning behavior
We extend our gratitude to the staff at Ordway–Swisher Biological Station and offer special thanks to USDA/APHIS Wildlife Research, Florida Field Station in Gainesville, FL, USA, and to several private landowners for permission to sample wild birds on their properties. We thank Kandy Keacher and Eddie Bruce for their assistance and support in the maintenance and housing of monk parakeets, and Michael Avery for insights into experimental design. We also appreciate many valuable discussions with students in the laboratories of Sieving, St Mary, and Rebecca Kimball at the University of Florida.
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