First evidence for active carnivorous predation in the European ground squirrel

Abstract

The Sciuridae family is generally referred to as herbivorous and occasionally omnivorous. Although sciurids are known to opportunistically feed on carcasses of other vertebrates (including cannibalism), the active predation on vertebrates is presumably rare. Here, we present a case of a European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) catching and eating a young Eurasian tree sparrow (Passer montanus) accompanied by photographic evidence. This is the first documented observation of bird-killing behavior in this endangered rodent. The incident happened at the end of spring (beginning of June) when the plant proteins are still scarce. At this time of the season, the ground squirrels are exhausted by reproduction efforts and need highly energetic food in order to recover.

Comments on “Intra- and interspecific variation in self-control capacities of parrots in a delay of gratification task”

Abstract

Brucks (Anim Cogn 25(2):473–491, 2021) have published an intriguing paper on the differing abilities of various species of parrots to succeed in a delay of gratification task. I find their interspecies comparisons of considerable interest but take exception to their misrepresentation of prior research on delayed gratification from our laboratory in Koepke (J Comp Psychol 129:339–346, 2015). Contrary to their claims, our subject was never trained on the task; rather, one might argue instead that all their subjects received considerable training or at least forms of pre-exposure that could affect their overall claims. I also briefly discuss other design features that may have affected their results.

Behavioral evidence for two distinct memory systems in rats

Abstract

Serial reaction time tasks, in which subjects have to match a target to a cue, are used to explore whether non-human animals have multiple memory systems. Predictable sub-sequences embedded in the sequence of cues are responded to faster, demonstrating incidental learning, often considered implicit. Here, we used the serial implicit learning task (SILT) to determine whether rats’ memory shows similar effects. In SILT, subjects must nose-poke into a sequence of two lit apertures, S1 and S2. Some S1 are always followed by the same S2, creating predictable sequences (PS). Across groups, we varied the proportion of PS trials, from 10 to 80%, and show that rats with more PS experience do better on them than on unpredictable sequences, and better than rats with less experience. We then introduced test trials in which no S2 was cued. Rats with more PS experience did better on test trials. Finally, we reversed some sequences (from predictable to unpredictable and vice versa) and changed others. We find that rats with more PS experience perseverate on old (now incorrect) responses more than those with less PS experience. Overall, we find a discontinuity in performance as the proportion of PS increases, suggesting a switch in behavioral strategies or memory systems, which we confirm using a Process Dissociation Procedure analysis. Our data suggest that rats have at least two distinct memory systems, one of which appears to be analogous to human implicit memory and is differentially activated by varying the proportion of PS in our task.

Azure-winged Magpies would rather avoid losses than strive for benefits based on reciprocal altruism

Abstract

It is no doubt that the reciprocal altruism of humans is unparalleled in the animal world. However, how strong altruistic behavior in the non-human animal is still very controversial. Almost all previous researches allowed only one individual in the dyad for action or dyad to accomplish tasks and obtain rewards simultaneously. Here, we designed current study based on the prisoner’s dilemma to investigate reciprocal altruism under interactions of Azure-winged Magpies (Cyanopica cyanus), which is direct reciprocity of allowing subjects obtain rewards, respectively. The results suggest that Azure-winged Magpies failed to show continuously altruistic behavior due to the empiricism that stemmed from interactions, that is, avoiding losses. Meanwhile, the resource exchange game paradigm, which is designed in our study, is worthwhile to study the evolution of cooperation in more species in the future.