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Cuttlefish show flexible and future-dependent foraging cognition.

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Billard, Pauline 
Schnell, Alexandra K 
Clayton, Nicola S 
Jozet-Alves, Christelle 


Some animals optimize their foraging activity by learning and memorizing food availability, in terms of quantity and quality, and adapt their feeding behaviour accordingly. Here, we investigated whether cuttlefish flexibly adapt their foraging behaviour according to the availability of their preferred prey. In Experiment 1, cuttlefish switched from a selective to an opportunistic foraging strategy (or vice versa) when the availability of their preferred prey at night was predictable versus unpredictable. In Experiment 2, cuttlefish exhibited day-to-day foraging flexibility, in response to experiencing changes in the proximate future (i.e. preferred prey available on alternate nights). In Experiment 1, the number of crabs eaten during the day decreased when shrimp (i.e. preferred food) were predictably available at night, while the consumption of crabs during the day was maintained when shrimp availability was unpredictable. Cuttlefish quickly shifted from one strategy to the other, when experimental conditions were reversed. In Experiment 2, cuttlefish only reduced their consumption of crabs during the daytime when shrimps were predictably available the following night. Their daytime foraging behaviour appeared dependent on shrimps' future availability. Overall, cuttlefish can adopt dynamic and flexible foraging behaviours including selective, opportunistic and future-dependent strategies, in response to changing foraging conditions.



cephalopods, flexibility, foraging cognition, future-dependent behaviour, Animals, Cognition, Decapodiformes, Feeding Behavior, Learning, Predatory Behavior

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Biol Lett

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The Royal Society


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European Research Council (339993)
Royal Society (NIF/R1/180962)
ERC funding