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The OpenFeeder: a flexible automated RFID feeder to measure inter and intraspecies differences in cognitive and behavioral performance in wild birds

Citation

Cauchoix, Maxime (2022), The OpenFeeder: a flexible automated RFID feeder to measure inter and intraspecies differences in cognitive and behavioral performance in wild birds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.c2fqz61bj

Abstract

Understanding the ecology and evolution of personality and cognition requires the development of new tools to measure individual and species differences in behavioral and cognitive performances in wild populations. Furthermore, such tools should facilitate collection of large sample sizes, evaluate the repeatability of measured traits and allow direct comparison of species performances across a variety of behavioural tasks. Here we present a RFID-based feeder (OpenFeeder) designed to run visual cognitive tasks in wild animals. We illustrate the flexibility of the tool showing performances of three wild passerine species (Parus major, Cyanistes caeruleus and Poecile palustris) in an associative learning task. We recorded performances of a large number of individuals (>300) in the wild and showed both inter and intraspecific differences in associative learning. We also found moderate to high repeatability in individual differences in associative learning in each species. We show that the OpenFeeder is a flexible tool to record performance in multiple cognitive and behavioural tasks in free ranging animals across a variety of passerine species. The design, firmware, and software are open source to facilitate use in a wide variety of species and thus allow continuous improvement of the system and development of new behavioural and cognitive tasks. In doing so, we hope that this tool will be used by a large community of cognitive ecologists and comparative psychologists for both within and across species studies. Furthermore, our system should facilitate replication of results across populations along large-scale environmental gradients to improve our understanding of the role ecology plays in the evolution of cognitive traits.

Methods

We used automated RFID feeders to collect the data. All analysed are performed in R.

Funding

Agence Nationale de la Recherche

Région Occitanie Pyrénées-Méditerranée