Harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) solve two-choice visual discriminations using learned object valence and a conditional cue

Walsh, Stephanie J. (2003) Harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) solve two-choice visual discriminations using learned object valence and a conditional cue. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF (Migrated (PDF/A Conversion) from original format: (application/pdf)) - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (8Mb)
  • [img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
    (Original Version)

Abstract

Five harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) experienced behavioural training on several learning tasks. In Experiment 1, the seals were trained on six 2-choice visual discrimination tasks. The ability of the seals to transfer learned object valence (i.e., S+ and S-) to new tasks involving 1 or 2 previously experienced stimuli was investigated. All seals learned to solve 2-choice discriminations and also performed significantly better on tasks involving 1 or 2 objects that had attained positive or negative valence from previous discriminative training than tasks involving 2 novel stimuli. This finding supports the hypothesis that harp seals can transfer learned object valence. Experiment 2 explored the capacity of harp seals to use the tank they were in as a conditional cue to solve a 2-choice visual discrimination reversal task. Seals that experienced a switch to a different tank that coincided with a reversal in reward contingencies showed significantly more improvement across five reversals than seals that did not experience a change in context. The results suggest that harp seals may be sensitive to spatial cues, which supports field observations of their ability to orient and navigate despite a lack of other cues (Kovacs, 1995). The findings are discussed in terms of harp seals' adaptations to the pack-ice environment, the constraints of the learning tasks, the nature of the subjects who were raised in captivity, and the number of subjects involved in the experiment.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7061
Item ID: 7061
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 109-127.
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology
Date: 2003
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Harp seal--Behavior; Harp seal--Training

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics