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Data from: Female cowbirds have more accurate spatial memory than males

Citation

Guigueno, Mélanie F.; Snow, Danielle A.; MacDougall-Shackleton, Scott A.; Sherry, David F. (2015), Data from: Female cowbirds have more accurate spatial memory than males, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.b45bm

Abstract

Brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) are obligate brood parasites. Only females search for host nests and they find host nests one or more days before placing eggs in them. Past work has shown that females have a larger hippocampus than males, but sex differences in spatial cognition have not been extensively investigated. We tested cowbirds for sex and seasonal differences in spatial memory on a foraging task with an ecologically relevant retention interval. Birds were trained to find one rewarded location among 25 after 24 h. Females made significantly fewer errors than males and took more direct paths to the rewarded location than males. Females and males showed similar search times, indicating there was no sex difference in motivation. This sex difference in spatial cognition is the reverse of that observed in some polygynous mammals and is consistent with the hypothesis that spatial cognition is adaptively specialized in this brood-parasitic species.

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Canada
London
Ontario