What is it about?

The cognitive processes underlying the foraging decisions of large mammals in nature are not well understood. We designed a field experiment and developed a model to evaluate whether roe deer use spatial memory or perception to make foraging decisions in the wild. We found that deer relied primarily on memory of recent experience.

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Why is it important?

Understanding how animals respond to changes in resource availability is central to ecological research and to designing effective wildlife conservation and management strategies. Our approach allows us to quantify memory use and to successfully predict how individuals will respond to future changes.


This research was very stimulating because it combined both a field experiment and mechanistic modelling of animal behavior. It convinced my coauthors and I that, despite its challenges, designing experiments to study wildlife ecology in nature is a very fruitful approach.

Nathan Ranc
University of California Santa Cruz

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Experimental evidence of memory-based foraging decisions in a large wild mammal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2014856118.
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