Departmental Bulletin Paper ニホンジカの知覚・認知特性の解明と被害管理手法の開発─実験対象の訓練
Investigation of perceptive and cognitive characteristics in Japanese sika deer (Cervus nippon) and development of damage management techniques – deer training

室山, 泰之  ,  香田, 啓貴  ,  小林, 秀司

Damages on agricultural crops by sika deer (Cervus nippon) have now been serioussocial and economical problems in Japan, and practical approaches to manage deerpopulations and/or behaviors are strongly required. Generally, most ways of the wildlifemanagement are the ecological ones, trying to understand the ultimate causations ofpopulation dynamics of deer and to control the population density around farms nearby.However, population management is an indirect way to alleviate agricultural damagesby deer, and does not control deer behaviors effectively. Here we attempt to develop ageneral-purpose costless behavioral test battery to assess their perceptual and cognitivetraits underlying their fear learning by operant conditioning approaches, a psychologicalway to directly shape the animal behavior as humans requires. The custom-madeapparatus were built up to use a small micro computer connected to a commercial feeddispenser for companion animals, and a small speaker; and these enabled ussystematically to control sound playback and food delivery. When conducting the simpleexperiments for one subject deer, where food pellets were delivered every 5 min for 12times together with a simultaneous or delayed playback of 440-Hz pure tone for thefirst 10 days, and 2-4 min for 18 times for the second 10 days, we examined whether ornot subject deer learned the association between sound playback and food delivery byanalyzing the reaction times from sound onset times to approaching to the fooddispenser. Our preliminary observations would show deer quick approaching to thefood dispenser when the sound played back, but the shortening of reaction times wasnot observed. This result suggested our apparatus would work well to further applyautomatically shaping of deer approaching, whereas we did not conclude their clearacquisition of association learning between cue sounds and food delivery. For the nextstep, we should improve to monitor deer approaches or other behavioral responses suchas sniff touching the switch to confirm their association leaning between sound cuesand their reactions. This would be a promising procedure to objectively test theirperceptual and cognitive foundations, and to obtain useful knowledge for applied studiesof deer behavioral managements.

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