Behaviour 2019
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Darwin’s finches can have taste preferences, but not for human foods
Kiyoko M. Gotanda1,2,3, David Lever2, Louise V. Rush4, Rose Thorogood2,5,6. 1Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; 2University of Cambridge, Cambridge, , United Kingdom; 3Brock University, St. Catharine's , Ontario, Canada; 4Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; 5Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE), Helsinki, , Finland; 6University of Helsinki, Helsinki, , Finland

Urbanization is rapidly increasing globally and can change the ecological niches that organisms exploit through the introduction of human foods. On the Galapagos Islands, we know that Darwin’s finches preferentially consume human foods and the question then becomes why do finches prefer human foods? Taste preferences could be linked to consumption preferences. We had expected that if taste preference had developed in conjunction with preferential feeding on human foods, we would find finches preferred tastes associated with human foods such as salty or sweet tastes. We also explored the idea that latent taste preferences might have played a role in such human food preferences. We found that medium ground finches preferred bitter flavour compared to other flavours across sites. Small ground finches had no taste preferences across sites. Our results suggest that taste preferences play a minor role in how Darwin’s finches have adapted to the presence of human foods because of increased urbanization.