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Long-term memory for a learned behaviour in a wild bird

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posted on 2021-02-11, 22:15 authored by Rachael ShawRachael Shaw, A Harvey
© 2020 The Authors. Long-term memory is a crucial adaptation for long-lived species. However, there have been few tests of the long-term retention of learned behaviours in free living, wild animals. Here, we demonstrate that the North Island robin (Petroica longipes; hereafter toutouwai) can recall a learned foraging behaviour for close to 2 years, with no intervening reinforcement. Birds that had been trained to peck open lids to retrieve a concealed food reward spontaneously solved a lid opening task between 10 and 22 months since they had last encountered the lid opening apparatus. By contrast, naive individuals could not solve the task. This long-term retention of a learned skill with no reinforcement, spanning over a quarter of the median age for wild toutouwai in our population, suggests that this threatened species may be an ideal candidate for conservation management strategies aimed at teaching individuals about novel threats and resources.

History

Preferred citation

Shaw, R. C. & Harvey, A. (2020). Long-term memory for a learned behaviour in a wild bird. Biology Letters, 16(2), 20190912-20190912. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0912

Journal title

Biology Letters

Volume

16

Issue

2

Publication date

2020-02-01

Pagination

20190912-20190912

Publisher

The Royal Society

Publication status

Published

Online publication date

2020-02-12

ISSN

1744-9561

eISSN

1744-957X

Language

en

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