Center for Avian Cognition


Date of this Version



Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2010) 365, 901–914 doi:10.1098/rstb.2009.0214


(c) 2010 The Royal Society


Many animals use cues for small-scale navigation, including beacons, landmarks, compasses and geometric properties. Scatter-hoarding animals are a unique system to study small-scale navigation. They have to remember and relocate many individual spatial locations, be fairly accurate in their searching and have to remember these locations for long stretches of time. In this article, we review what is known about cue use in both scatter-hoarding birds and rodents. We discuss the importance of local versus global cues, the encoding of bearings and geometric rules, the use of external compasses such as the Sun and the influence of the shape of experimental enclosures in relocating caches or hidden food. Scatter-hoarding animals are highly flexible in how and what they encode. There also appear to be differences in what scatter-hoarding birds and rodents encode, as well as what scatter-hoarding animals in general encode compared with other animals. Areas for future research with scatter-hoarding animals are discussed in light of what is currently known.