Wasp looks for nest entrance in relation to visual cues.

Wasp looks for nest entrance in relation to visual cues.

Conclusion: A wasp learns to use objects in its environment to locate her nest.

52.4 Spatial Learning Tinbergen's classic experiment showed that a female digger wasp learns the positions of objects in her environment.

they imprinted on him. The goslings followed him everywhere, interacting with him as if he were their parent (Figure 52.5). When the experiment was repeated by his assistants, each wearing boots with a different design, the goslings imprinted on the boots, and would follow only a person wearing the boots they first saw when they hatched.

The critical period for imprinting is determined by a developmental or hormonal state and can be quite brief. If a mother goat, for example, does not nuzzle and lick her newborn within 5 to 10 minutes after its birth, she will not recognize it as her own later. In this case, imprinting depends on olfactory cues, and the critical period is determined by the high levels of the hormone oxytocin in the mother's circulatory system at the time of birth.

Inheritance and learning interact to produce bird song

Many behavior patterns result from intricate interactions of inheritance and learning. One example that has been the subject of some elegant experiments is bird song. Adult male songbirds use a species-specific song in territorial displays and courtship. For most species, such as the white-crowned sparrow, learning is an essential step in the acquisition of song.

If the eggs of white-crowned sparrows are hatched in an incubator and the young male birds are reared in isolation, their adult songs will be unusual assemblages of sounds, not the typical species-specific song. White-crowned sparrows cannot express their species-specific song without imprinting on that song as nestlings (Figure 52.6, experiment 1). But even though the male white-crowned sparrow must hear the song of his own species as a nestling to sing it as an adult, he does not sing it as a juvenile. Instead, the auditory imprinting he experiences as a nestling forms a song memory in his nervous system.

Imprinting is the learning of a complex releaser

Releasers are generally simple subsets of the information available to an animal because there are limits to what can be programmed genetically. A type of learning called imprinting makes it possible to learn, during a limited critical period, a complex set of stimuli that can later serve as a releaser. The classic example is the imprinting of offspring on their parents and parents on their offspring to ensure individual recognition even in a crowded situation such as a colony or a herd.

Lorenz hatched goose eggs in an incubator, and because he was the first thing the goslings saw when they hatched,

52.5 Imprinting Enables an Animal to Learn a Complex Releaser

Because ethologist Konrad Lorenz was the first thing these goslings saw when they hatched, they imprinted on him, and interacted with him thereafter as if he were their parent.

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