Colour discrimination and associative learning in hatchling lizards incubated at 'hot' and 'cold' temperatures

Benjamin F. Clark, Joshua J. Amiel, Richard Shine, Daniel W A Noble, Martin J. Whiting*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    47 Citations (Scopus)


    The ability of an animal to acquire, process and learn from information in their environment is thought to be fundamental to fitness. We currently have a poor understanding of the learning ability of young animalswithin the first few months of their life, the types of learning they use and the extent of their learning ability. Furthermore, an animal’s developmental environment, such as nest incubation temperature, may profoundly influence motor and cognitive skills.We first tested the ability of hatchling three-lined skinks (Bassiana duperreyi ) incubated at ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ temperatures to solve an instrumental (motor) task before assessing their ability to learn colour associations in a multi-stage instrumental task, with a choice reversal. While 53 (88.3 %) lizards successfully completed the training phase, 14 (46.7 %) of the ‘hot’ incubated and none of the ‘cold’ incubated lizards successfully completed the instrumental task. Thirteen of these lizards rapidly learnt to discriminate colours, and this culminated in eight individuals successfully completing a choice reversal. Hatchling B. duperreyi demonstrated surprisingly rapid learning, and these results highlight the potentially important role of cognition during development and ultimately, in fitness.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)239-247
    Number of pages9
    JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


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