Precocial juvenile lizards show adult level learning and behavioural flexibility

Szabo, Birgit; Noble, Daniel W.A.; Byrne, Richard W.; Tait, David S.; Whiting, Martin J. (2019). Precocial juvenile lizards show adult level learning and behavioural flexibility. Animal behaviour, 154, pp. 75-84. Elsevier Ltd. 10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.06.003

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In altricial species, young rely on parental care and brain maturation mainly occurs after birth. In precocial species, young are born at a more advanced developmental stage in need of less or no parental care and brain development is mostly completed at the time of birth.We therefore predicted early maturation of learning ability in precocial species. We used a series of visual discrimination and reversal stages to investigate the ability of the precocial eastern blue-tongue lizard, Tiliqua scincoides scincoides, a longlived Australian lizard species with slow-developing young, to respond to changes in stimulus relevance and test for behavioural flexibility. To test whether age affects learning in this species, we compared juveniles (23e56 days) with adults (sexually mature, at least 2 years). In accordance with our expectations, adults and juveniles performed similarly well in all stages, suggesting that juveniles of this precocial species learn at adult levels from an early age. Both age classes performed well during reversals showing good behavioural flexibility. This is the first study in lizards to directly compare juvenile and adult behavioural flexibility. Importantly, we demonstrate that precocial lizards can begin life with an advanced cognitive ability already in place.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Szabo, Birgit

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)

ISSN:

0003-3472

Publisher:

Elsevier Ltd.

Funders:

Organisations 0 not found.
[UNSPECIFIED] Macquarie University

Language:

English

Submitter:

Birgit Szabo

Date Deposited:

24 Nov 2020 09:44

Last Modified:

24 Nov 2020 09:44

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.anbehav.2019.06.003

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.147981

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/147981

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