Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Comparison of spontaneous cognitive abilities in captive and wild grey mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus)

Animals’ cognitive abilities have traditionally been studied in captive settings, and only more recently in wild animals. Only few studies investigated how captive and wild animals differ in performance in such cognitive tasks. We aim to compare performance in a small cognitive test battery between wild (N = 91; published data) and captive grey mouse lemurs (N = 34). In addition, the impact of additional variables such as age, sex, previous experience and maternal effect were investigated for the captive animals only. We conducted a problem solving task, an inhibitory control task and a causal understanding task with the same experimental paradigms in captivity and the wild. Problem solving skills were not predicted by any of the variables in captive grey mouse lemurs. In contrast, inhibitory control was influenced by both maternal effect and age, with older subjects making more errors compared to younger ones. In addition, females performed better than males in causal understanding. Finally, cognitive abilities of captive and wild grey mouse lemurs differed significantly with wild mouse lemurs outperforming captive individuals in the problem solving and causal understanding task but not in the inhibitory control task. These differences may be the result of higher explorative tendencies in wild grey mouse lemurs, or age differences between wild and captive individuals. Overall, these findings contribute to our understanding of the cognitive abilities of grey mouse lemurs and highlight the importance of considering factors such as age, sex, and origin in cognitive studies.

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