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Naive Ducklings Show Different Cardiac Response To Hawk Than To Goose Models

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Naive mallard ducklings were exposed to overflights of a silhouette of either a hawk or a goose on one day and the other configuration on the next day. An audio record of the heart rate was recorded utilizing a small transducer. Most of the ducklings (14 of 20) showed a greater variance in heart rate in response to the hawk than to the goose (p<0.01 ). These results indicate that the ducklings without prior, specific experience can differentiate between a goose and a hawk and show a greater emotional response to the latter. This constitutes evidence for the recognition of configurational stimulus without prior, pertinent experience. The use of cardiac responses as a measure of emotionality or fear is discussed, as are the merits of various measures of changes in heart rate. We conclude that variance in heart rate is an excellent measure of emotional response to a stimulus.


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Affiliations: 1: (Department of Zoology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., U.S.A.


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