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Physical cognition: birds learn the structural efficacy of nest material.

Bailey IE, Morgan KV, Bertin M, Meddle SL, Healy SD - Proc. Biol. Sci. (2014)

Bottom Line: For birds that raised chicks successfully, there was no association between the material they used to build their nest and the type they subsequently preferred.Birds' material preference reflected neither the preference of their father nor of their siblings but juvenile experience of either string type increased their preference for stiffer string.Our results represent two important advances: (i) birds choose nest material based on the structural properties of the material; (ii) nest material preference is not entirely genetically predetermined as both the type and amount of experience influences birds' choices.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Biology, University of St Andrews, , Harold Mitchell Building, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9TH, UK, Roslin Institute, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, , Easter Bush EH25 9RG, UK.

ABSTRACT
It is generally assumed that birds' choice of structurally suitable materials for nest building is genetically predetermined. Here, we tested that assumption by investigating whether experience affected male zebra finches' (Taeniopygia guttata) choice of nest material. After a short period of building with relatively flexible string, birds preferred to build with stiffer string while those that had experienced a stiffer string were indifferent to string type. After building a complete nest with either string type, however, all birds increased their preference for stiff string. The stiffer string appeared to be the more effective building material as birds required fewer pieces of stiffer than flexible string to build a roofed nest. For birds that raised chicks successfully, there was no association between the material they used to build their nest and the type they subsequently preferred. Birds' material preference reflected neither the preference of their father nor of their siblings but juvenile experience of either string type increased their preference for stiffer string. Our results represent two important advances: (i) birds choose nest material based on the structural properties of the material; (ii) nest material preference is not entirely genetically predetermined as both the type and amount of experience influences birds' choices.

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The percentage of stiff string chosen by males that had no(n = 7), one (n = 10) ortwo (n = 7) experiences of building with flexiblestring. The data are the means and standard errors for these treatmentgroups. The dashed line indicates 50%.
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RSPB20133225F1: The percentage of stiff string chosen by males that had no(n = 7), one (n = 10) ortwo (n = 7) experiences of building with flexiblestring. The data are the means and standard errors for these treatmentgroups. The dashed line indicates 50%.

Mentions: To ascertain whether the number of nesting experiences each male had with a stringtype affected the strength of their preference for the string type with which theybuilt in Experiment 2, the data from Experiment 2 were divided into three groups: (i)males that had experienced flexible string in both experiments, (ii) males that hadexperienced both stiff and flexible string, and (iii) males that had experienced onlystiff string. The more experience the males had of flexible string, the greater theirpreference for stiff string (Kruskal–Wallis test,H7,10,7 = 7.42, p =0.02; post-hoc comparisons between groups, flexible only: stiff only,χ² = 6.87, p < 0.01;flexible only: flexible and stiff, χ² = 3.37,p = 0.07; stiff only: flexible and stiff,χ² = 1.96, p = 0.16;figure 1). Figure 1.


Physical cognition: birds learn the structural efficacy of nest material.

Bailey IE, Morgan KV, Bertin M, Meddle SL, Healy SD - Proc. Biol. Sci. (2014)

The percentage of stiff string chosen by males that had no(n = 7), one (n = 10) ortwo (n = 7) experiences of building with flexiblestring. The data are the means and standard errors for these treatmentgroups. The dashed line indicates 50%.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4043081&req=5

RSPB20133225F1: The percentage of stiff string chosen by males that had no(n = 7), one (n = 10) ortwo (n = 7) experiences of building with flexiblestring. The data are the means and standard errors for these treatmentgroups. The dashed line indicates 50%.
Mentions: To ascertain whether the number of nesting experiences each male had with a stringtype affected the strength of their preference for the string type with which theybuilt in Experiment 2, the data from Experiment 2 were divided into three groups: (i)males that had experienced flexible string in both experiments, (ii) males that hadexperienced both stiff and flexible string, and (iii) males that had experienced onlystiff string. The more experience the males had of flexible string, the greater theirpreference for stiff string (Kruskal–Wallis test,H7,10,7 = 7.42, p =0.02; post-hoc comparisons between groups, flexible only: stiff only,χ² = 6.87, p < 0.01;flexible only: flexible and stiff, χ² = 3.37,p = 0.07; stiff only: flexible and stiff,χ² = 1.96, p = 0.16;figure 1). Figure 1.

Bottom Line: For birds that raised chicks successfully, there was no association between the material they used to build their nest and the type they subsequently preferred.Birds' material preference reflected neither the preference of their father nor of their siblings but juvenile experience of either string type increased their preference for stiffer string.Our results represent two important advances: (i) birds choose nest material based on the structural properties of the material; (ii) nest material preference is not entirely genetically predetermined as both the type and amount of experience influences birds' choices.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Biology, University of St Andrews, , Harold Mitchell Building, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9TH, UK, Roslin Institute, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, , Easter Bush EH25 9RG, UK.

ABSTRACT
It is generally assumed that birds' choice of structurally suitable materials for nest building is genetically predetermined. Here, we tested that assumption by investigating whether experience affected male zebra finches' (Taeniopygia guttata) choice of nest material. After a short period of building with relatively flexible string, birds preferred to build with stiffer string while those that had experienced a stiffer string were indifferent to string type. After building a complete nest with either string type, however, all birds increased their preference for stiff string. The stiffer string appeared to be the more effective building material as birds required fewer pieces of stiffer than flexible string to build a roofed nest. For birds that raised chicks successfully, there was no association between the material they used to build their nest and the type they subsequently preferred. Birds' material preference reflected neither the preference of their father nor of their siblings but juvenile experience of either string type increased their preference for stiffer string. Our results represent two important advances: (i) birds choose nest material based on the structural properties of the material; (ii) nest material preference is not entirely genetically predetermined as both the type and amount of experience influences birds' choices.

Show MeSH