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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 change in birds’ preference for stiff string frombefore and after building a complete nest (Experiment 2). Preferences werecalculated from the first 10 choices. The data are preferences for each male(n = 24). The dashed line indicates no change(0%).
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RSPB20133225F2: The percentage change in birds’ preference for stiff string frombefore and after building a complete nest (Experiment 2). Preferences werecalculated from the first 10 choices. The data are preferences for each male(n = 24). The dashed line indicates no change(0%).

Mentions: The number of pieces of string the males used to build their nest contributed to thechange in preference for string type between the two experiments: the more pieces ofeither string type males added to their nest during Experiment 2, the more theyincreased their preference for stiff string (linear regression model,F1,22 = 6.79, p = 0.02;figure 2). The type of string,stiff or flexible, used to build the nest in Experiment 2 was unimportant to both thetotal number of pieces of string males used to construct their nests (means of 607± 107 and 700 ± 152 pieces, respectively; Wilcoxon rank sums test,Z11,13 = 0.35, p =0.73) and the degree to which they changed their preference for stiff string betweenpreference tests (means of 20.00 ± 8.32 and 18.18 ± 9.79%,respectively; Wilcoxon rank sums test, Z11,13 =0.20, p = 0.84). Figure 2.


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 change in birds’ preference for stiff string frombefore and after building a complete nest (Experiment 2). Preferences werecalculated from the first 10 choices. The data are preferences for each male(n = 24). The dashed line indicates no change(0%).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

RSPB20133225F2: The percentage change in birds’ preference for stiff string frombefore and after building a complete nest (Experiment 2). Preferences werecalculated from the first 10 choices. The data are preferences for each male(n = 24). The dashed line indicates no change(0%).
Mentions: The number of pieces of string the males used to build their nest contributed to thechange in preference for string type between the two experiments: the more pieces ofeither string type males added to their nest during Experiment 2, the more theyincreased their preference for stiff string (linear regression model,F1,22 = 6.79, p = 0.02;figure 2). The type of string,stiff or flexible, used to build the nest in Experiment 2 was unimportant to both thetotal number of pieces of string males used to construct their nests (means of 607± 107 and 700 ± 152 pieces, respectively; Wilcoxon rank sums test,Z11,13 = 0.35, p =0.73) and the degree to which they changed their preference for stiff string betweenpreference tests (means of 20.00 ± 8.32 and 18.18 ± 9.79%,respectively; Wilcoxon rank sums test, Z11,13 =0.20, p = 0.84). Figure 2.

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