Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Bennett G. Galef, Jr.
The present research investigates whether information concerning distant foods can be exchanged by domestic rats at a central site. Experiments were designed to model a natural situation in which a successful forager ("demonstrator" rat) returns to the burrow (home cage) and interacts briefly with a fellow colony member ("observer" rat).
Information transfer was demonstrated, as observers exhibited a marked preference for the food that their demonstrators had eaten.
A series of experiments designed to analyze the means of information exchange demonstrated that communication was mediated by olfactory cues. Active communication regarding the demonstrator's feeding success proved unnecessary for effective information transfer between demonstrators and observers.
Finally, observers exposed to poisoned demonstrators during the interaction period, nevertheless exhibited a preference for the food that their demonstrators had eaten. This result suggested that observers had failed to associate olfactory cues regarding the food with their demonstrators' illness.
Wigmore, Stephen W., "Olfactory Communication in Rats: A Mechanism for Information Centre Functioning" (1982). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4597.
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