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Differences in problem solving ability between urban and rural great tits

Kačergytė, Ineta (2016) BION01 20152
Degree Projects in Biology
Popular Abstract
Does urbanisation make great tits clever?

The expanding urban areas are changing the environment that the wildlife lives in. Most bird species avoid cities while some animals seem to prosper there. On the other hand, there are some species that live both in urban and rural areas without a preference for one. Such species are really interesting to study, because they can directly show the impact that urbanization have on animal communities.

Such studies have shown that city birds sing in higher frequencies, and furthermore, start to be active earlier than the rural ones. Also, it has been shown that stable food sources, like feeders, offered by cities can increase the survival probability of birds. What is more, city birds may lack... (More)
Does urbanisation make great tits clever?

The expanding urban areas are changing the environment that the wildlife lives in. Most bird species avoid cities while some animals seem to prosper there. On the other hand, there are some species that live both in urban and rural areas without a preference for one. Such species are really interesting to study, because they can directly show the impact that urbanization have on animal communities.

Such studies have shown that city birds sing in higher frequencies, and furthermore, start to be active earlier than the rural ones. Also, it has been shown that stable food sources, like feeders, offered by cities can increase the survival probability of birds. What is more, city birds may lack genetic diversity that rural birds have.

The question of my thesis is: does urbanisation influence the cognition, or more precisely, the problem solving ability? To answer this question, I chose the great tit Parus major, which is a small bird that lives both in cities and rural areas. It has innovative feeding behaviour and shows individual variation in its problem solving ability. The birds had to pass two problem solving tests – string pulling and plug opening. During these tests, great tit needed to reach a mealworm that it could see, but could not reach directly.

In both tests females from urban environments were better problem solvers than those from rural. Males on the other hand performed similarly in plug opening test between environments, but there were more rural males succeeding in string pulling test than urban ones. Urban males and females performed really similarly, while rural females were much worse than rural males at innovative problem solving ability.

My observed differences could be explained by different feeding strategies between great tit females and males. For example, females can steal hoarded food items, while males don’t feed in such a way. Cities lack food hoarders, so city females can’t exploit this feeding strategy. Also, males tend to feed on the ground while females - higher up in the trees, preferring different food items. Looking at my results and considering that city birds lack genetic diversity, I suggest that cities offer a similar environment for the feeding strategies, while rural area supports diverse feeding strategies between great tit males and females.

Advisor: Anders Brodin
Master’s Degree Project, 45 credits in General Biology, 2016
Department of Biology, Lund University (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Kačergytė, Ineta
supervisor
organization
course
BION01 20152
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
8891750
date added to LUP
2016-09-14 14:32:41
date last changed
2016-09-14 14:32:41
@misc{8891750,
  author       = {Kačergytė, Ineta},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Differences in problem solving ability between urban and rural great tits},
  year         = {2016},
}