Meeting Abstract

P1.179  Wednesday, Jan. 4  Spatial Navigation Strategies of Green Poison Dart Frogs in a Morris Water Maze Task LIU, Y.*; DAY, L.B.; SUMMERS, K.; BURMEISTER, S.S.; Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Univ. of Mississippi; East Carolina Univ.; Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill liuyy@live.unc.edu

Dendrobatid frogs have evolved complex parental behaviors, including egg attendance and tadpole transport, which require the ability to relocate offspring over distances. We know little about the strategies used by dendrobatids to return to their offspring. Thus, we tested the possibility that the green poison dart frog (Dendrobates auratus), which exhibits male parental care, could navigate to a visible platform 1.5cm above the surface in a water-filled circular arena akin to the Morris Water Maze. Because dart frogs are terrestrial, they are motivated to find the platform in order to escape from the water. In experiment 1, we changed the release point and platform location each trial, and tested subjects in 4 trials/day for 7 days. We found that the latency to locate the platform did not vary across days, indicating that the frogs were unable to learn the task. In experiment 2, the release point and platform location were fixed in each trial. Under these conditions, the latency to find the platform decreased over the experiment and the successful trials increased, indicating that they learned the task. We then conducted two probe trials to test the strategy by which the frogs completed the task. In probe 1, we submerged the platform and found that the frogs’ performance was unchanged, indicating that they were not using the visual properties of the platform to solve the task. In probe 2, we moved both the release point and platform location and found that latency increased and success rate decreased to levels comparable to the beginning of the experiment. From this we conclude that the frogs were likely using a motor strategy (i.e., praxis) to complete the task rather than relying on the visual cue.