Seeing red? Colour biases of foraging birds are context dependent
Teichmann, M., Thorogood, R., & Hämäläinen, L. (2020). Seeing red? Colour biases of foraging birds are context dependent. Animal Cognition, 23(5), 1007-1018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-020-01407-x
Published inAnimal Cognition
© 2020 the Author(s)
Colours are commonly used as visual cues when measuring animals’ cognitive abilities. However, animals can have innate biases towards certain colours that depend on ecological and evolutionary contexts, therefore potentially influencing their performance in experiments. For example, when foraging, the colour red can advertise profitable fruits or act as a warning signal about chemically defended prey, and an individual’s propensity to take food of that colour may depend on experience, age or physical condition. Here, we investigate how these contexts influence blue tits’ (Cyanistes caeruleus) and great tits’ (Parus major) responses to red-coloured almond flakes. We found that juvenile birds preferred red both when it was presented simultaneously with green, and when it was presented with three alternative colours (orange, purple, green). Adult birds, however, only preferred red after a positive experience with the colour, or when it was presented with the three alternative colours. We then tested whether colour influenced avoidance learning about food unpalatability. Despite the prediction that red is a more salient warning signal than green, we found only weak evidence that birds discriminated red unpalatable almonds from a green palatable alternative more quickly than when the colours were reversed. Our results suggest that biases towards red food may depend on birds’ age and previous experience, and this might influence their performance in experiments that use red stimuli. Considering the ecological relevance of colours is, therefore, important when designing experiments that involve colour cues. ...
Publication in research information system
MetadataShow full item record
Additional information about fundingLiisa Hämäläinen was funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and Emil Aaltonen Foundation. Rose Thorogood was supported by an Independent Research Fellowship from the Natural Environment Research Council UK (NE/K00929X/1) and a start‐up grant from the Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE), University of Helsinki.
Showing items with similar title or keywords.
Context-dependent coloration of prey and predator decision making in contrasting light environments Nokelainen, Ossi; de Moraes Rezende, Francisko; Valkonen, Janne K.; Mappes, Johanna (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2022)A big question in behavioral ecology is what drives diversity of color signals. One possible explanation is that environmental conditions, such as light environment, may alter visual signaling of prey, which could affect ...
Hämäläinen, Liisa; Hoppitt, William; Rowland, Hannah M.; Mappes, Johanna; Fulford, Anthony J.; Sosa, Sebastian; Thorogood, Rose (Nature Publishing Group, 2021)Social transmission of information is taxonomically widespread and could have profound effects on the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of animal communities. Demonstrating this in the wild, however, has been challenging. ...
Out in the open : behavior’s effect on predation risk and thermoregulation by aposematic caterpillars Nielsen, Matthew E.; Mappes, Johanna (Oxford University Press, 2020)Warning coloration should be under strong stabilizing selection but often displays considerable intraspecific variation. Opposing selection on color by predators and temperature is one potential explanation for this seeming ...
Thorogood, Rose; Kokko, Hanna; Mappes, Johanna (Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2018)Warning signals are an effective defence strategy for aposematic prey, but only if they are recognized by potential predators. If predators must eat prey to associate novel warning signals with unpalatability, how can ...
Behavioural thresholds of blue tit colour vision and the effect of background chromatic complexity Silvasti, Sanni A.; Valkonen, Janne K.; Nokelainen, Ossi (Elsevier, 2021)Vision is a vital attribute to foraging, navigation, mate selection and social signalling in animals, which often have a very different colour perception in comparison to humans. For understanding how animal colour perception ...