Coyote Numerical Discrimination on Based Memor

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USU Student Showcase

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Faculty Mentor

Kerry Jordan


This study builds upon previous findings in numerical cognition with animals by testing whether coyotes are able to quantitatively discriminate proportions based on memory as has been shown in domestic dogs (Ward & Smuts, 2006). Former research was conducted with domestic dogs and coyote populations to discern their visual ability to quantitatively discriminate between different numerical ratios. It has been shown that such canids have an ability to visually discriminate between simultaneously displayed larger and smaller portions of food (Baker, Shivik, & Jordan, 2011; Ward & Smuts, 2006). These findings are consistent with Weber's Law, which states that the just-noticeable difference between two stimuli is proportional to the magnitude of the original stimuli. Here we assessed coyotes_ quantitative discrimination abilities by displaying different quantities of food pieces to coyotes before placing the choices out of their visual field. We coded their choices to determine whether they can discriminate between different quantities based on their memory of these quantities and if it adheres to Weber's Law. Contrary to our expectations, our results show that coyotes do not discriminate quantities as predicted by Weber's Law when using their memory. However, two variables significantly predicted the coyote choosing the greater portion: 1) the side the larger portion was placed and 2) if the larger or smaller ratios were presented first. We further discuss why this might be the case from an evolutionary perspective and why these particular factors might affect the choices made by coyotes.

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