Successful acquisition of an olfactory discrimination test by Asian elephants,Elephas maximus
2012 (English)In: Physiology and Behavior, ISSN 0031-9384, E-ISSN 1873-507X, Vol. 105, no 3, 809-814 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
The present study demonstrates that Asian elephants, Elephas maximus, can successfully be trained to cooperatein an olfactory discrimination test based on a food-rewarded two-alternative instrumental conditioningprocedure. The animals learned the basic principle of the test within only 60 trials and readily mastered intramodalstimulus transfer tasks. Further, they were capable of distinguishing between structurally related odorstimuli and remembered the reward value of previously learned odor stimuli after 2, 4, 8, and 16 weeks ofrecess without any signs of forgetting. The precision and consistency of the elephants' performance in testsof odor discrimination ability and long-term odor memory demonstrate the suitability of this method forassessing olfactory function in this proboscid species. An across-species comparison of several measuresof olfactory learning capabilities such as speed of initial task acquisition and ability to master intramodalstimulus transfer tasks shows that Asian elephants are at least as good in their performance as mice, rats,and dogs, and clearly superior to nonhuman primates and fur seals. The results support the notion thatAsian elephants may use olfactory cues for social communication and food selection and that the sense ofsmell may play an important role in the control of their behavior.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2012. Vol. 105, no 3, 809-814 p.
Asian elephants, Elephas maximus, Odor learning, Behavioral testing, Olfactory discrimination, Long-term odor memory
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-72458DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.08.021ISI: 000300076500027OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-72458DiVA: diva2:459750