New Zealand birds first encountered mammalian predators in the 18th century and thus do not carry an evolved set of response options for mammals. The responses of experienced and naive New Zealand robins, Petroica australis , to an introduced mammal (the stoat, Mustela erminea ) were compared. Experienced (mainland) robins responded strongly to the stoat, whereas their response to the control (a box) was weak, and similar to the response of naive (island) robins to both the stoat and the control. Naive robins learned to recognize the stoat after one-event learning. The training was robust, being achieved using three training protocols. Robins on the mainland have apparently learned to recognize predators, and it is suggested that learned recognition abilities have enabled their survival. Predator training may be a valuable addition to many reintroduction programmes for endangered species.
Animal Behaviour – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 1995
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