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Data from: Thinking outside the box: problem-solving in free-living lizards

Cite this dataset

Storks, Levi; Leal, Manuel (2020). Data from: Thinking outside the box: problem-solving in free-living lizards [Dataset]. Dryad.


Despite evidence that organisms are more likely to exhibit their full range of cognitive abilities under conditions found in nature, studies evaluating cognition under such conditions remain rare, particularly in vertebrate species. Here we conducted an experiment to evaluate problem solving and motor-self regulation in free-living arboreal lizards, Anolis sagrei, under natural conditions. We presented lizards with a novel detour problem which challenged individuals to circumvent a transparent barrier in order to obtain a food reward. Individuals varied in their ability to solve the detour problem. Furthermore, those that solved the problem were able to improve their performance across trials by modifying the natural response of attempting to strike the reward trough the transparent barrier, providing evidence of motor self-regulation. Solving the problem required individuals to modify their typical foraging behavior, as approaching the prey in a single burst of movement that culminated with an attack was an unsuccessful strategy. Contrary to expectations our findings provide evidence of motor self-regulation in a visually-oriented, sit-and-wait predator under natural conditions, suggesting motor-self-regulation is not limited by foraging strategy. Our results also underscore the need to evaluate the cognitive abilities of free-living organisms in the wild, particularly for taxa that perform poorly under laboratory conditions.


Refer to published article.


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB-0949357

National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1051793

Directorate for Biological Sciences, Award: 1051793