Does seed-caching experience affect spatial memory performance by pinyon jays?

B. Lucas Stafford, Russell P. Balda, Alan C. Kamil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Food-storing birds use spatial memory to find previously cached food items. Throughout winter, pinyon jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) rely heavily on cached pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) seeds. Because of a recent severe drought, pinyon pine trees had not produced a significant seed crop for several years. Therefore, 1- and 2-yr-old birds never had the opportunity to cache and recover seeds and birds 4 or more years of age had not recovered seeds in 3 yr. This study examined whether natural but extreme variability in experience might result in differences in abstract spatial memory ability during a non-cache recovery test of spatial memory. Three groups of jays were tested for spatial memory ability in an open room analog of the radial arm maze. Two of the groups were 8 mo old: young/minimally experienced birds which had 2 mo of experience in the wild, while young/experienced birds had 5 mo of experience in their natural habitat. The third group, adult, consisted of birds more than 3 yr old, with at least 3 yr of experience in their natural habitat. This was the only group with experience caching pine seeds. All three groups performed equally and well above chance. This suggests that spatial memory is fully developed by 8 mo of age and is not affected by extensive experience in the wild.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1202-1208
Number of pages7
JournalEthology
Volume112
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

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caching
Birds
Seeds
Pinus edulis
bird
seed
Pinus
birds
seeds
Ecosystem
Food
food
crop year
Droughts
habitat
habitats
Spatial Memory
drought
crop
winter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Cite this

Does seed-caching experience affect spatial memory performance by pinyon jays? / Stafford, B. Lucas; Balda, Russell P.; Kamil, Alan C.

In: Ethology, Vol. 112, No. 12, 01.12.2006, p. 1202-1208.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Stafford, B. Lucas ; Balda, Russell P. ; Kamil, Alan C. / Does seed-caching experience affect spatial memory performance by pinyon jays?. In: Ethology. 2006 ; Vol. 112, No. 12. pp. 1202-1208.
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