1 Tahrcountry Musings: Do solitary foraging nocturnal small mammals plan their routes?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Do solitary foraging nocturnal small mammals plan their routes?

Do solitary foraging nocturnal mammals plan their routes?
 April 27, 201110.1098/rsbl.2011.0258Biol. Lett. 23 August 2011 vol. 7 no. 4 638-640

Here is a thought provoking paper on small mammals.

It is an established fact that large-brained diurnal mammals with complex social systems plan where and how to reach a resource. This is established by a systematic movement pattern analysis.
Here the researchers examined for the first time large-scale movement patterns of a solitary-ranging and small-brained mammal, the mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). They used the change-point test and a heuristic random travel model to get insight into foraging strategies and route-planning abilities.

Seven lemurs were radio-collared and their foraging patterns examined. The researchers say the change-points coincided with out-of-sight keystone food resources. Travel paths were more efficient in detecting these resources than a heuristic random travel model within limits of estimated detection distance.

The researchers signs off suggesting that even nocturnal, solitary-ranging mammals with small brains plan their route to an out-of-sight target. Thus, similar ecological pressures may lead to comparable spatial cognitive skills irrespective of the degree of sociality or relative brain size.

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