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Anim Behav. 1997 Oct;54(4):879-91.

Field experiments on duration and precision of grey and red squirrel spatial memory

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Department of Psychology, University of Exeter


Field experiments on squirrel spatial memory under naturalistic conditions showed that grey squirrels, Sciurus carolinensisare capable of relocating precise spatial goals using short range visual cues. These goals were in the form of buried food, similar to natural cache sites, and were relocated to within 5 cm in 62.5% of all attempts after a retention interval of 20 days. Some recall could be demonstrated after more protracted retention intervals (43 and 62 days). These results suggest that grey squirrels' spatial memory is accurate enough to support a successful retrieval strategy. Application of one of the same methods to a population of red squirrels, Sciurus vulgariswhich is not as reliant on stored food, suggested that their spatial memory is less long lasting as predicted by the adaptive specialization hypothesis of cognitive function.


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