Social exploitation of intermittently available foods and the social reinstatement of food preference
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To determine whether Norway rats, Rattus norvegicus, could use socially acquired information to track recurrences of an intermittently available food (experiment 1), we allowed observer rats to interact every 2-3 days with demonstrator rats fed one of two diets, then determined the amount of each diet eaten by observers. We found that observer rats showed repeated significant increases in their preferences for foods their respective demonstrators had eaten. Because social interactions repeatedly enhanced preference for a food, we reasoned that after the socially induced food preference of an animal (A1) had waned, that preference might be reinstated in A1 by interaction with a conspecific (A2) in whom A1 had previously induced a preference for the food. In experiment 2, we demonstrated such social reinstatement of a food preference. Copyright 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.
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