In the animal kingdom, too, it is of the utmost importance to circumvent certain places at certain times (due to predators) and to visit others at other times (due to the availability of food). Until recently, the exact way in which mammals established this link between time and place remained a mystery.
However, researchers at the University of Groningen have finally unravelled the secret. Their findings will be published in Current Biology on 3 June 2008.
The researchers began by observing how mice in the lab could be taught to connect time and place – the so-called ‘time-place learning’. Prof. Menno Gerkema, the last author of the article, explains that an attempt was made to emulate natural circumstances as much as possible. ‘Animals always have to weigh up the situation when gathering food. To them, food is never free. A mouse can always be seized by predators. We tried to incorporate that risk in our experiment.’
Eelco Salverda | alfa
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