Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Animal Learning & Behavior 16 (2), 116-122 (1988). Copyright 1988 Psychonomic Society, Inc. Used by permission


Clark’s nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) use spatial memory to recover stored food in the field. In the present experiments, an open-field analogue of the radial arm maze was developed and used to test the ability of nutcrackers to remember spatial locations. The nutcrackers showed high levels of retention after 6 h, but were close to chance levels after a 24-h retention interval. These results suggest that nutcrackers may use different spatial memory systems under different conditions. After long retention intervals, nutcrackers performed more accurately than pigeons tested by other experimenters using similar procedures. This raises the possibility of species differences in spatial memory, although much more research will be required to resolve this important issue.