The fringe-lipped bat, Trachops cirrhosus, uses frog calls from different species as acoustic cues to assess the palatability of its prey. Previous experiments have shown that T. cirrhosus is extremely flexible in its foraging behavior. In the new study, Page and Ryan investigated the role of social learning in bat foraging flexibility. Comparing three different learning groups, the researchers measured the rate at which bats learned new foraging information: in this case, the novel (experimental) association of the calls of a poisonous toad species with the presence of palatable prey.
The researchers tested the effectiveness of learning this experimental association through three different means: (a) a social learning group, in which a bat inexperienced with the new call-food association was allowed to observe an experienced bat; (b) a social facilitation group, in which two inexperienced bats were presented with the experimental task together; and (c) a trial-and-error group, in which a single inexperienced bat was presented with the experimental task alone.
In the social learning group, bats rapidly acquired the novel association in an average of 5.3 trials. In the social facilitation and trial-and-error groups, most bats did not approach the call of the poisonous species even after 100 trials. These results suggest that once acquired, novel prey-cue/prey-quality associations could spread rapidly through bat populations by cultural transmission.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
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Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
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Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
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Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
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On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
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16.11.2018 | Life Sciences