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The Following-Response and Imprinting in Wild and Domestic Ducklings of the Same Species (Anas Pla Tyrhynchos) 1)

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image of Behaviour

1. Both the wild and domestic ducklings showed response variation. Some ducklings followed the decoy(s), others avoided it, and some behaved neutrally (indifferent). 2. The most highly domesticated group (Peking) showed the least behavioral variation. Specifically, only 2/65 Pekings showed avoidance (fear, fleeing) behavior upon testing, whereas 19/65 and 26/65 of wild and semi-wild Mallards, respectively, evinced avoidance behavior. The reduction of fear behavior in the most highly domesticated group was interpreted as the result of selection against overactive or "nervous" animals under domestic circumstances. 3. The following-response was more prominent in the Peking group than in either Mallard group. This finding was interpreted as contrary to the hypothesis that the following-response is maladaptive under domestic (barnyard) conditions. 4. Imprinting was equally strong in each of the groups, i.e., if a duckling followed during testing, it followed the object to which it had been initially exposed (33/40 Pekings, 7/10 semi-wild Mallards, 15/20 wild Mallards). The incidence and vigor of imprinting in the Peking group was contrary to the hypothesis that imprinting is maladaptive under domestic conditions. 5. To explain the maintenance of following and imprinting under domestic circumstances, the role that this behavior is supposed to play in breeding was pointed out.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Psychology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA


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