Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Species differences in egocentric navigation: the effect of burrowing ecology on a spatial cognitive trait in mice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Jason N. Bruck, Noah A. Allen, Kelsey E. Brass, Brian A. Horn, Polly Campbell

School/Research organisations

Abstract

Efficient navigation is a critical component of fitness for most animals. While most species use a combination of allocentric (external) and egocentric (internal) cues to navigate through their environment, subterranean environments present a unique challenge in that visually mediated allocentric cues are unavailable. The relationship between egocentric spatial cognition and species differences in ecology is surprisingly understudied. We used a maze-learning task to test for differences in egocentric navigation between two closely related species of mice, the eastern house mouse, Mus musculus musculus, and the mound-building mouse, Mus spicilegus. The two species are sympatric in Eastern Europe and overlap in summer habitat use but differ dramatically in winter space use: whereas house mice occupy anthropogenic structures, mound-building mice survive the winter underground in intricate burrow systems. Given species differences in burrowing ecology, we predicted that M. spicilegus would learn the maze significantly faster than M. m. musculus when tested in complete darkness, a condition that eliminated allocentric spatial information and served as a proxy for the subterranean environment. We found strong support for this prediction. In contrast, the two species performed equally well when different mice were tested in the same maze with lights on. This context-specific species difference in spatial cognition suggests that enhanced egocentric navigation in M. spicilegus is an adaptation to the burrow systems on which the overwinter survival of young mound-building mice depends. The results of this study highlight the importance of ecological adaptations to the evolution of cognitive traits.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume127
Early online date28 Mar 2017
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2017

    Research areas

  • Learning, Memory, Mound building, Mus spicilegus, Route-based navigation, Spatial ecology

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by journal

  1. Development of object manipulation in wild chimpanzees

    Lamon, N., Neumann, C. & Zuberbuhler, K. Jan 2018 In : Animal Behaviour. 135, p. 121-130

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Field experiments with wild primates reveal no consistent dominance-based bias in social learning

    Botting, J., Whiten, A., Grampp, M. & van de Waal, E. Feb 2018 In : Animal Behaviour. 136, p. 1-12 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Flexible use of simple and combined calls in female Campbell's monkeys

    Coye, C., Ouattara, K., Arlet, M. E., Lemmasson, A. & Zuberbuhler, K. Jul 2018 In : Animal Behaviour. 141, p. 171-181 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Heterospecific shoaling in an invasive poeciliid: shared history does not affect shoal cohesion

    Ali, J. R., Deacon, A. E., Mahabir, K., Ramnarine, I. W. & Magurran, A. E. Apr 2018 In : Animal Behaviour. 138, p. 1-8 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. How pre- and postcopulatory sexual selection influence male mating decisions in a promiscuous species

    Orfao, I., Ojanguren, A. F., Barbosa, M., Vicente, L., Varela, S. & Magurran, A. E. Feb 2018 In : Animal Behaviour. 136, p. 147-157 11 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Animal Behaviour (Journal)

    Healy, S. D. (Editor)
    1 Jan 201831 Dec 2018

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

  2. Animal Behaviour (Journal)

    Cresswell, W. (Reviewer)
    15 Sep 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  3. Animal Behaviour (Journal)

    Webster, M. M. (Editor)
    1 Jan 201731 Dec 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

  4. Animal Behaviour (Journal)

    Healy, S. D. (Editor)
    1 Jan 201731 Dec 2017

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

  5. Animal Behaviour (Journal)

    Healy, S. D. (Editor)
    1 Jun 201631 Dec 2016

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

ID: 249488896