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Data from: Hybrid chickadees are deficient in learning and memory

Cite this dataset

McQuillan, Michael A.; Roth II., Timothy C.; Huynh, Alex V.; Rice, Amber M. (2018). Data from: Hybrid chickadees are deficient in learning and memory [Dataset]. Dryad.


Identifying the phenotypes underlying postzygotic reproductive isolation is crucial for fully understanding the evolution and maintenance of species. One potential postzygotic isolating barrier that has rarely been examined is learning and memory ability in hybrids. Learning and memory are important fitness-related traits, especially in scatter-hoarding species, where accurate retrieval of hoarded food is vital for winter survival. Here, we test the hypothesis that learning and memory ability can act as a postzygotic isolating barrier by comparing these traits among two scatter-hoarding songbird species, black-capped (Poecile atricapillus), Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis), and their naturally occurring hybrids. In an outdoor aviary setting, we find that hybrid chickadees perform significantly worse on an associative learning spatial task and are worse at solving a novel problem compared to both parental species. Deficiencies in learning and memory abilities could therefore contribute to postzygotic reproductive isolation between chickadee species. Given the importance of learning and memory for fitness, our results suggest that these traits may play an important, but as yet overlooked, role in postzygotic reproductive isolation.

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