Conditioned taste aversion, feeding style, and the evolution of prey toxicity
Dimmick, Curt R.
MetadataShow full item record
Animals can learn in a single trial to associate the taste of a food item with the consequences of consumption (illness). This process, called conditioned taste aversion (CTA), is an adaptive learning process that allows consumers to avoid risking subsequent consumption of toxic food items. CTA can result in long-distance avoidance of toxic prey and so has been proposed as the mechanism underlying avoidance learning important in the evolution of prey toxicity and mimicry. I report a series of studies involving captive and free-ranging rodents and Corvids examining how the feeding style of a consumer affects the formation of CTA. Consumers that slowly ate foods containing a rapid-actinq toxin failed to form CTA apparently because absorption of toxin during the meal suppressed eating and so reduced the dose needed to form CTA. When a full dose of toxin was consumed i n a rapidly eaten meal, CTA was formed. The differences in feeding behavior between rodents that slowly masticate food and birds that swallow food whole, may influence what behavioral strategy is used to avoid toxicosis and have direct implications upon the evolution of toxicity in prey species.