Title: Cognitive ecology of memory in natural populations
Background: The environment can play a significant role in determining the behaviour of animals. These behaviours usually involve some form of learning about the environment, for example predator recognition or migratory routes. The strongest evidence for the influence of the environment on behaviour comes from intraspecific comparisons between populations from contrasting habitats. Threespined sticklebacks are an obvious choice for such comparisons as they are found in a variety of contrasting habitats, for example rivers and ponds. These different habitats have already been found to influence the ways in which their respective populations learn to navigate around the environment. Less attention has been directed at the effects of such environmental variation on memory duration. We are currently using wild caught populations of threespined sticklebacks to investigate this.
Future work will investigate the influence of environment on learning and memory duration in other natural fish populations.