Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Grober

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Snyder

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew Clancy

Abstract

Color vision can affect our assumptions of an animals’ natural history. It can be determined by testing sensory or perception ability, which was employed here. Two Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinerea), of opposite sexes, housed at ZooAtlanta, were trained via operant conditioning to discriminate stimuli within 7 tasks, primarily in a two-choice fashion. Varying shades of the colors blue, green and red were tested against varying greys, all which differed in intensity, served as the stimuli for the first 4 tasks. The remaining 3 tasks, the colors were tested against each other. The male reached criterion for the first 6 tasks, indicating an ability to discriminate the stimuli based on color. The female however participated only in 2, and could not achieve criterion as set, though there were indications of discrimination ability. Taken together with sensory work on two related otter species, Asian small-clawed otters possess color vision.

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