Behaviour 2019
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Canada jays (Perisoreus canadensis) employ context-dependent cache protection strategies
R. Jeff Martin1,2, David F. Sherry1,2. 1Western University, London, Ontario, Canada; 2Advanced Facility for Avian Research, London, Ontario, Canada

Food caching is a behaviour used by many animals and is often essential for surviving food-scarce periods. Maximizing the chances that stored food remains available for future retrieval is critical to the overall fitness of caching individuals. Cache-robbers present a serious threat to food-caching animals. Caching species have evolved a variety of cache protection strategies in order to limit the risk of cache-robbery. We assessed these cache protection strategies in Canada Jays (Perisoreus canadensis), year-round residents of Canada and the Western United States that rely on cached food to survive food-scarce winters. We evaluated caching behaviour and spatial position of captive Canada Jays in contexts that varied in potential risk of cache-robbing including the presence vs absence of a model cache-robber and visual cover from a model cache-robber. Depending on perceived risk, Canada Jays flexibly employed numerous non-mutually exclusive cache protection strategies including cache depressionout-of-sight caching, and spacing. These strategies likely reduce the risk of cache-robbing and increase the probability of caches remaining available for recovery and consumption.