Successful acquisition of an olfactory discrimination paradigm by South African fur seals, Arctocephalus pusillus
2008 (English)In: Physiology and Behavior, ISSN 0031-9384, E-ISSN 1873-507X, Vol. 93, no 4-5, 1033-1038 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The present study demonstrates that South African fur seals, Arctocephalus pusillus, can successfully be trained to discriminate between objects on the basis of odor cues. Using a task based on a food-rewarded two-choice discrimination of simultaneously presented odor stimuli the animals acquired the basic operant conditioning paradigm within 480 to 880 stimulus contacts. Moreover, the fur seals could readily transfer to new S+ and S- stimuli, were capable of distinguishing between fish- and non-fish odors as well as between two fish odors, and were able to remember the reward value of previously learned odor stimuli even after 2- and 15-week breaks. The precision and consistency of the fur seals' performance in tests of discrimination ability and memory demonstrate the suitability of this paradigm for assessing olfactory function in this pinniped. An across-species comparison of several measures of olfactory learning capabilities such as speed of initial task acquisition and ability to master transfer tasks shows that A. pusillus is similar in performance to non-human primates, but inferior to rodents such as mice and rats. The results support the assumption that fur seals may use olfactory cues for social communication and food selection and that the sense of smell may play an hitherto underestimated role in the control of their behavior. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 93, no 4-5, 1033-1038 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-43071DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.01.019Local ID: 71404OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-43071DiVA: diva2:263928