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Use of the sun as a heading indicator when caching and recovering in a wild rodent


Samson, Jamie; Manser, Marta B (2016). Use of the sun as a heading indicator when caching and recovering in a wild rodent. Scientific Reports, 6:32570.

Abstract

A number of diurnal species have been shown to use directional information from the sun to orientate. The use of the sun in this way has been suggested to occur in either a time-dependent (relying on specific positional information) or a time-compensated manner (a compass that adjusts itself over time with the shifts in the sun’s position). However, some interplay may occur between the two where a species could also use the sun in a time-limited way, whereby animals acquire certain information about the change of position, but do not show full compensational abilities. We tested whether Cape ground squirrels (Xerus inauris) use the sun as an orientation marker to provide information for caching and recovery. This species is a social sciurid that inhabits arid, sparsely vegetated habitats in Southern Africa, where the sun is nearly always visible during the diurnal period. Due to the lack of obvious landmarks, we predicted that they might use positional cues from the sun in the sky as a reference point when caching and recovering food items. We provide evidence that Cape ground squirrels use information from the sun’s position while caching and reuse this information in a time-limited way when recovering these caches.

Abstract

A number of diurnal species have been shown to use directional information from the sun to orientate. The use of the sun in this way has been suggested to occur in either a time-dependent (relying on specific positional information) or a time-compensated manner (a compass that adjusts itself over time with the shifts in the sun’s position). However, some interplay may occur between the two where a species could also use the sun in a time-limited way, whereby animals acquire certain information about the change of position, but do not show full compensational abilities. We tested whether Cape ground squirrels (Xerus inauris) use the sun as an orientation marker to provide information for caching and recovery. This species is a social sciurid that inhabits arid, sparsely vegetated habitats in Southern Africa, where the sun is nearly always visible during the diurnal period. Due to the lack of obvious landmarks, we predicted that they might use positional cues from the sun in the sky as a reference point when caching and recovering food items. We provide evidence that Cape ground squirrels use information from the sun’s position while caching and reuse this information in a time-limited way when recovering these caches.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:13 Feb 2017 07:39
Last Modified:03 Aug 2017 19:47
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
Funders:University of Zurich
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32570
PubMed ID:27580797

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