In this paper, I begin by presenting a detailed summary and discussion of work that has been conducted in my laboratory investigating how the cognitive mechanisms that underpin foraging may be adapted to maximally exploit resources of different distributions. My study species, the noisy miner (Aves: Meliphagidae, Manorina melanocephala) is a generalist forager that feeds on both nectar and invertebrate prey - resources with quite different natural distributions. Throughout this discussion I draw comparisons between the behaviour and cognition of noisy miners and other relevant species. These include the two other nectarivorous groups that have been the subjects of the most in-depth investigations of the cognition of nectar foraging: hummingbirds (especially rufous hummingbirds, Selasphorus rufus) and bees; and also several species of insectivorous birds. I then consider how the different extant approaches to studying animal cognition lead researchers to ask different questions, apply different types of studies and ultimately draw quite different conclusions about the structure and function of cognitive mechanisms across the Animal Kingdom. In particular, I discuss the implications of these different approaches for interpreting the findings from avian nectarivores and for inspiring the directions of future research. I finish by identifying some of the strengths and weaknesses of the research programs examined. I also suggest some potentially profitable future directions, including the development of more novel paradigms, and the use of formal modeling to guide quantitative predictions of behaviour.
|Title of host publication||Animal cognition|
|Subtitle of host publication||Principles, evolution and development|
|Editors||Mary C. Olmstead|
|Place of Publication||New York|
|Number of pages||23|
|Publication status||Published - 01 Jan 2016|
|Name||Animal science, issues and research|