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Data from: Darwin’s small and medium ground finches might have taste preferences, but not for human foods

Citation

Gotanda, Kiyoko (2022), Data from: Darwin’s small and medium ground finches might have taste preferences, but not for human foods, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.nzs7h44t3

Abstract

Urbanization is rapidly changing ecological niches. On the inhabited Galapagos Islands, Darwin’s finches consume human-introduced foods preferentially; however, it remains unclear why. Here we presented pastry with flavour profiles typical of human foods (oily, salty, sweet) to small ground finches (Geospiza fuliginosa) and medium ground finches (Geospiza fortis) to test if latent taste preferences might drive selection of human foods. If human-food flavours were consumed more than a neutral or bitter control only at sites with human foods, then we predicted tastes were acquired after urbanization; however, if no site-differences were found then this would indicate latent taste preferences. Contrary to both predictions, we found little evidence that human-food flavours were preferred compared to control flavours at any site. Instead, finches showed a weak aversion to oily foods, but only at remote (no human foods present) sites. This was further supported by behavioural responses, with beak wiping occurring more often at remote sites after finches tasted flavours associated with human foods. Our results suggest, therefore, that while Darwin’s finches exposed to human foods might have acquired a tolerance human food flavours, latent taste preferences are unlikely to have played a major role in their dietary response to increased urbanization.