How Habitat Features Shape Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus beldingi) Navigation
Journal of Comparative Psychology
The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether Belding's ground squirrels (Urocitellus beldingi) from areas rich in beacons perform differently in a task of spatial memory compared with squirrels from beacon-thin areas. To assess the role of environmental experience in spatial memory, wild-born squirrels with several days of experience in the field were compared with squirrels born in a lab and with no experience in their original habitat. Over two summers, squirrels captured from beacon-dense and beacon-thin areas were tested in a radial maze interspersed with beacons, using number of trials to criterion as a measure of spatial memory. To evaluate the effect of landmark navigation, in year 2 juveniles were prevented from seeing outside the maze area. In both years squirrels from beacon-dense populations reached criterion faster than squirrels from beacon-thin populations, and a weak rearing effect was present in 1 year. Despite sex differences in adult spatial skills, no differences were found between males and females in the maze. This demonstrates variation in the navigation strategies of young U. beldingi, and highlights the need to evaluate spatial preferences as a function of population or ecology in addition to species and sex. © 2010 American Psychological Association.
Bruck, Jason N. and Mateo, Jill M., "How Habitat Features Shape Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus beldingi) Navigation" (2010). Faculty Publications. 173.