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Innovative consumers: ecological, behavioral, and physiological predictors of responses to novel food


Prasher, Sanjay; Thompson, Megan J; Evans, Julian C; El-Nachef, Michael; Bonier, Frances; Morand-Ferron, Julie (2019). Innovative consumers: ecological, behavioral, and physiological predictors of responses to novel food. Behavioral Ecology, 30(5):1216-1225.

Abstract

Consumer innovation, that is, the acquisition and consumption of novel food types, has received little attention, despite its predominance among animal innovations and its potential implications for the ecology and evolution of species in a changing world. Results of the few studies that have investigated individual responses to novel foods suggest that various ecological, behavioral, and physiological variables may affect individual propensity for consumer innovation, but further work is needed to clarify these relationships. We investigated whether urbanization, social rank, exploratory personality, and baseline levels of corticosterone predict food neophobia and consumer innovation responses of wild-caught black-capped chickadees (N = 170) from 14 sites along an urbanization gradient. Our analyses do not support a link between food neophobia or consumer innovation and urbanization, dominance, or exploratory personality. However, birds with higher levels of baseline corticosterone were quicker to contact novel food types, and more likely to consume novel foods than individuals with lower levels of the hormone. This finding suggests that physiological states that promote foraging behavior might drive individual responses to novel food. Additionally, we found that chickadees tested later in autumn were less neophobic than those tested earlier in the season, perhaps reflecting seasonal changes in food availability. Together, the ability of baseline corticosterone and date of capture to predict responses to novel food suggest that necessity may drive consumer innovation in chickadees.

Abstract

Consumer innovation, that is, the acquisition and consumption of novel food types, has received little attention, despite its predominance among animal innovations and its potential implications for the ecology and evolution of species in a changing world. Results of the few studies that have investigated individual responses to novel foods suggest that various ecological, behavioral, and physiological variables may affect individual propensity for consumer innovation, but further work is needed to clarify these relationships. We investigated whether urbanization, social rank, exploratory personality, and baseline levels of corticosterone predict food neophobia and consumer innovation responses of wild-caught black-capped chickadees (N = 170) from 14 sites along an urbanization gradient. Our analyses do not support a link between food neophobia or consumer innovation and urbanization, dominance, or exploratory personality. However, birds with higher levels of baseline corticosterone were quicker to contact novel food types, and more likely to consume novel foods than individuals with lower levels of the hormone. This finding suggests that physiological states that promote foraging behavior might drive individual responses to novel food. Additionally, we found that chickadees tested later in autumn were less neophobic than those tested earlier in the season, perhaps reflecting seasonal changes in food availability. Together, the ability of baseline corticosterone and date of capture to predict responses to novel food suggest that necessity may drive consumer innovation in chickadees.

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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)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:28 September 2019
Deposited On:14 Feb 2020 11:46
Last Modified:14 Feb 2020 11:50
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1045-2249
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arz067

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