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Title: Foraging in the Barbary dove : evolution, optimisation, and rules of thumb
Author: Wynne, Clive D. L.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3573 6315
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1986
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Barbary Doves (Streptopelia risoriae) were tested in two simple foraging experiments based on concurrent interval schedules of reinforcement, in both experiments food reinforcement was made available, independently on each option, for the first response to a schedule after some time had elapsed since reinforcement had last been delivered by that option. The two schedules were independent, and the mean interval between reinforcements on each was not always the same. For one experiment the response required was depressing one or other side of a floor panel, and the intervals between reinforcements were drawn from an exponential distribution, so that they were as variable as possible. In the other experiment the response requirement was a key peck; and intervals between reinforcements were either drawn from an exponential distribution; from a semi- variable arithmetic distribution; or from a completely regular set of fixed intervals. Results from these experiments are compared to the predictions of optimal foraging theory, assuming that the subjects are trying to maximize net energy intake. No agreement with prediction was here found for the floor panel experiment. For the key peck experiment it was found that visits to the better key were longer than to the key with the lower rate of payout, but that visits to the latter key were not instantaneous as had been predicted; nor was the interval between pecks uniform. Results from both experiments were also analysed in terms of the matching relation, though the utility of this procedure is here disputed. Data from the key peck experiment was tested to see if the Doves were using either of two 'rules of thumb' (behaviour generating rules) that have been proposed to account for behaviour on these schedules. No support at all was found for the notion that the proportion of reinforcements from the two options in the past was controlling the proportion of responses given to each option in the future (known as 'melioration'). Evidence for the theory of 'momentary maximising', predicting that each response would be placed on the option offering the highest momentary probability of reward, was hard to assess, because of the presence of a changeover delay in the key peck experiment. It seemed that, in general, responses were not placed so as to maximize momentary probability of reinforcement, but that a certain subset of responses, the first response to a new schedule, was well placed in this respect. These results are discussed in the context of a theory of the role of learning and behaviour in evolution known as 'Evolutionary Epistemology' which was not, however, directly tested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Behaviour patterns of doves