Costly learning: preference for familiar food persists despite negative impact on survival
Costa, Thaiany M.
Hebets, Eileen A.
Willemart, Rodrigo H. [UNIFESP]
Is part ofBiology Letters
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Animals often rely on events in their environment that provide information (i.e. experience) to alter their future decision-making in ways that are presumed to be beneficial. Such experience-based learning, however, does not always lead to adaptive decision-making. In this study, we use the omnivorous harvestman Heteromitobates discolor to explore the role of past diet on subsequent food choice and survival. We first tested whether a short-term homogeneous diet (rotten crickets, fresh crickets or dog food) influenced subsequent food choice (rotten cricket versus fresh cricket). We next examine the impact of diet on survival. We found that following experience with a homogeneous cricket diet, adult harvestmen displayed a learned preference for familiar food, regardless of whether it was rotten or fresh cricketsindividuals experiencing dog food were equally likely to choose rotten versus fresh crickets. We additionally found that individuals that ate rotten crickets suffered shorter survival than those that ate fresh crickets. Together, our results suggest that the diet an individual experiences can lead to maladaptive food preferences preferences that ultimately result in reduced longevity.
CitationBiology Letters. London, v. 12, n. 7, p. -, 2016.
SponsorshipFundacao de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo (FAPESP)
Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq)
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