Abstract # 6290 Event # 125:

Scheduled for Friday, June 19, 2015 10:30 AM-10:45 AM: (Cascade F) Oral Presentation


HOW ECOLOGICAL VALIDITY INFLUENCES THE PERFORMANCE OF FISH (LABROIDES DIMIDIATUS) AND PRIMATES (CEBUS APELLA) IN A FORAGING TASK

L. Pretot1, R. Bshary2 and S. F. Brosnan1,3
1Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA, 2Department of Behavioral Ecology, University of Neuchatel, Neuchatel, NE, 2000, Switzerland, 3Department of Philosophy & Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University
line
     The ecological approach to cognition challenges the classical view that advanced cognitive skills are correlated with larger brains. Previous studies have shown that cleaner fish may outperform primates in a foraging task designed to be ecologically relevant to them. To draw the conclusion that this is entirely due to ecological validity, however, we must also demonstrate the reverse, namely that primates succeed better than fish in an equivalent task more relevant to primate ecology. We addressed this question by comparing both taxa in versions of this task designed to be more primate-relevant. First, we investigated whether food presentation influenced performance; in particular, whereas fish consume identical foods from different sources, primates consume different foods from different sources, so we explored whether differences in the foods themselves, rather than how the food was presented, made the task easier for primates. Second, we tested whether performance improved when the foods were hidden. Primates improved their performance in these adapted tasks as compared to the original (Paired t-test, two-tailed, all ps<0.05) whereas fish did not (Paired t-test, two-tailed, all ps>0.05), which supported the view that both species are likely selected to solve problems that are naturally relevant to them. We argue that testing species on two different tasks, each of which being only relevant to one of them, is the strongest test of the ecological view of cognition.