Numerical ordinality in a wild nectarivore
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Ordinality is a numerical property that nectarivores may use to remember the specific order in which to visit a sequence of flowers, a foraging strategy also known as traplining. In this experiment, we tested whether wild, free-living rufous hummingbirds (Selasphorus rufus) could use ordinality to visit a rewarded flower. Birds were presented with a series of linear arrays of 10 artificial flowers; only one flower in each array was rewarded with sucrose solution. During training, birds learned to locate the correct flower independent of absolute spatial location. The birds' accuracy was independent of the rewarded ordinal position (1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th), which suggests that they used an object-indexing mechanism of numerical processing, rather than a magnitude-based system. When distance cues between flowers were made irrelevant during test trials, birds could still locate the correct flower. The distribution of errors during both training and testing indicates that the birds may have used a so-called working up strategy to locate the correct ordinal position. These results provide the first demonstration of numerical ordinal abilities in a wild vertebrate and suggest that such abilities could be used during foraging in the wild.
Vámos , T I F , Tello-Ramos , M C , Hurly , T A & Healy , S D 2020 , ' Numerical ordinality in a wild nectarivore ' , Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences , vol. 287 , no. 1930 , 20201269 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.1269
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved. This work has been made available online in accordance with publisher policies or with permission. Permission for further reuse of this content should be sought from the publisher or the rights holder. This is the author created accepted manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.1269
DescriptionThis work was supported by the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (S.D.H.), the University of Lethbridge, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (RGPIN 121496-2003; T.A.H.)
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