Ravens remember the nature of a single reciprocal interaction sequence over 2 days and even after a month

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To explain reciprocity, direct or indirect, several proximate mechanisms have been proposed, yet little attention has been given to the specific underlying cognitive mechanisms. Regardless of what proximate rules underlie reciprocity, some kind of memory would be paramount. Corvids in general, and ravens, Corvus corax, specifically, have been shown to possess an array of sophisticated cognitive mechanisms involved in memory. In this study, we tested the memory of nine ravens in an exchange paradigm where they could exchange a low-quality for a high-quality food item. Specifically, we tested whether they remembered who was a reliable ‘fair’ experimenter and who would not reliably exchange (the ‘unfair’ experimenter), and whether they would subsequently choose to interact with the former when given the choice. In addition, we tested whether ravens that observed the initial seeding of information about who was ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’ could transform bystander information into first-person interactions, i.e. also preferring to interact with the ‘fair’ experimenter when given the choice. The results show that ravens with first-hand experience were more likely to interact with experimenters with whom they had had a positive previous experience, and that this memory lasted at least 1 month. In contrast, observers did not distinguish between the experimenters when given the choice to interact with them. Previous first-hand experience with the paradigm, however, seemed to help observers to be more successful in solving the task, albeit not significantly above chance. In sum, this study shows memory for direct reciprocity in ravens, and tentatively suggests memory for indirect reciprocity. Accordingly, these results provide hints for the underlying mechanism of memory in raven social interactions.

Details

Authors
  • Alejandro J. Müller
  • J. J.M. Massen
  • T. Bugnyar
  • M. Osvath
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of Vienna
  • University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Behavioral Sciences Biology

Keywords

  • animal memory, common ravens, cooperation, exchange paradigm, indirect reciprocity, reciprocity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume128
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jun 1
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes