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Individual recognition in domestic cattle (Bos taurus): evidence from 2D-images of heads from different breeds.

Coulon M, Deputte BL, Heyman Y, Baudoin C - PLoS ONE (2009)

Bottom Line: Our results demonstrated that cattle have efficient individual recognition based on categorization capacities.Social familiarity improved their performance.These results call for studies exploring the mechanisms involved in face recognition allowing interspecies comparisons, including humans.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Université Paris 13, CNRS UMR 7153, Laboratoire d'Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée, Villetaneuse, France. marjorie.coulon@leec.univ-paris13.fr

ABSTRACT

Background: In order to maintain cohesion of groups, social animals need to process social information efficiently. Visual individual recognition, which is distinguished from mere visual discrimination, has been studied in only few mammalian species. In addition, most previous studies used either a small number of subjects or a few various views as test stimuli. Dairy cattle, as a domestic species allow the testing of a good sample size and provide a large variety of test stimuli due to the morphological diversity of breeds. Hence cattle are a suitable model for studying individual visual recognition. This study demonstrates that cattle display visual individual recognition and shows the effect of both familiarity and coat diversity in discrimination.

Methodology/principal findings: We tested whether 8 Prim'Holstein heifers could recognize 2D-images of heads of one cow (face, profiles, (3/4) views) from those of other cows. Experiments were based on a simultaneous discrimination paradigm through instrumental conditioning using food rewards. In Experiment 1, all images represented familiar cows (belonging to the same social group) from the Prim'Holstein breed. In Experiments 2, 3 and 4, images were from unfamiliar (unknown) individuals either from the same breed or other breeds. All heifers displayed individual recognition of familiar and unfamiliar individuals from their own breed. Subjects reached criterion sooner when recognizing a familiar individual than when recognizing an unfamiliar one (Exp 1: 3.1+/-0.7 vs. Exp 2: 5.2+/-1.2 sessions; Z = 1.99, N = 8, P = 0.046). In addition almost all subjects recognized unknown individuals from different breeds, however with greater difficulty.

Conclusions/significance: Our results demonstrated that cattle have efficient individual recognition based on categorization capacities. Social familiarity improved their performance. The recognition of individuals with very different coat characteristics from the subjects was the most difficult task. These results call for studies exploring the mechanisms involved in face recognition allowing interspecies comparisons, including humans.

Show MeSH
Individual recognition of a familiar versus an unfamiliar conspecific.Number of sessions (Mean+SE) to reach the criterion level during the training and the generalization phases in experiments 1 (familiar Prim'Holstein) and 2 (unfamiliar Prim'Holstein) (N = 9, * = P<0.05).
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pone-0004441-g003: Individual recognition of a familiar versus an unfamiliar conspecific.Number of sessions (Mean+SE) to reach the criterion level during the training and the generalization phases in experiments 1 (familiar Prim'Holstein) and 2 (unfamiliar Prim'Holstein) (N = 9, * = P<0.05).

Mentions: In all experiments, whatever the sample individual (conditions: FPH, UPH, N, CH), all eight subjects successfully reached the criterion in the training phases. In generalization tests, all subjects recognized a familiar as well as an unfamiliar PH individual and an unfamiliar N individual (Figures 3, 4, 5). In addition all heifer subjects, except one recognized the unfamiliar CH cow from the other unfamiliar CH ones (Figures 4, 5).


Individual recognition in domestic cattle (Bos taurus): evidence from 2D-images of heads from different breeds.

Coulon M, Deputte BL, Heyman Y, Baudoin C - PLoS ONE (2009)

Individual recognition of a familiar versus an unfamiliar conspecific.Number of sessions (Mean+SE) to reach the criterion level during the training and the generalization phases in experiments 1 (familiar Prim'Holstein) and 2 (unfamiliar Prim'Holstein) (N = 9, * = P<0.05).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2636880&req=5

pone-0004441-g003: Individual recognition of a familiar versus an unfamiliar conspecific.Number of sessions (Mean+SE) to reach the criterion level during the training and the generalization phases in experiments 1 (familiar Prim'Holstein) and 2 (unfamiliar Prim'Holstein) (N = 9, * = P<0.05).
Mentions: In all experiments, whatever the sample individual (conditions: FPH, UPH, N, CH), all eight subjects successfully reached the criterion in the training phases. In generalization tests, all subjects recognized a familiar as well as an unfamiliar PH individual and an unfamiliar N individual (Figures 3, 4, 5). In addition all heifer subjects, except one recognized the unfamiliar CH cow from the other unfamiliar CH ones (Figures 4, 5).

Bottom Line: Our results demonstrated that cattle have efficient individual recognition based on categorization capacities.Social familiarity improved their performance.These results call for studies exploring the mechanisms involved in face recognition allowing interspecies comparisons, including humans.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Université Paris 13, CNRS UMR 7153, Laboratoire d'Ethologie Expérimentale et Comparée, Villetaneuse, France. marjorie.coulon@leec.univ-paris13.fr

ABSTRACT

Background: In order to maintain cohesion of groups, social animals need to process social information efficiently. Visual individual recognition, which is distinguished from mere visual discrimination, has been studied in only few mammalian species. In addition, most previous studies used either a small number of subjects or a few various views as test stimuli. Dairy cattle, as a domestic species allow the testing of a good sample size and provide a large variety of test stimuli due to the morphological diversity of breeds. Hence cattle are a suitable model for studying individual visual recognition. This study demonstrates that cattle display visual individual recognition and shows the effect of both familiarity and coat diversity in discrimination.

Methodology/principal findings: We tested whether 8 Prim'Holstein heifers could recognize 2D-images of heads of one cow (face, profiles, (3/4) views) from those of other cows. Experiments were based on a simultaneous discrimination paradigm through instrumental conditioning using food rewards. In Experiment 1, all images represented familiar cows (belonging to the same social group) from the Prim'Holstein breed. In Experiments 2, 3 and 4, images were from unfamiliar (unknown) individuals either from the same breed or other breeds. All heifers displayed individual recognition of familiar and unfamiliar individuals from their own breed. Subjects reached criterion sooner when recognizing a familiar individual than when recognizing an unfamiliar one (Exp 1: 3.1+/-0.7 vs. Exp 2: 5.2+/-1.2 sessions; Z = 1.99, N = 8, P = 0.046). In addition almost all subjects recognized unknown individuals from different breeds, however with greater difficulty.

Conclusions/significance: Our results demonstrated that cattle have efficient individual recognition based on categorization capacities. Social familiarity improved their performance. The recognition of individuals with very different coat characteristics from the subjects was the most difficult task. These results call for studies exploring the mechanisms involved in face recognition allowing interspecies comparisons, including humans.

Show MeSH