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Innate preference for native prey and personality implications in captive amur tigers

Wang, Qi, Liu, Dan, Holyoak, Marcel, Jia, Teng, Yang, Shengfan, Liu, Xifeng, Kong, Xuanmin, Jiang, Guangshun
Applied animal behaviour science 2019 v.210 pp. 95-102
Panthera tigris altaica, breeding, carnivores, endangered species, feces, learning, personality, predation, wild boars
Prey recognition is vital for predation and the survival of carnivores. In theory, carnivores recognize prey by instinct or learning. However, the instinct hypothesis has little support. In addition, it remains unknown if prey recognition capability correlates with personality. Here, we test if Amur (or Siberian) tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), an endangered species, instinctually recognize their native prey. By studying both captive and prey-naive Amur tigers, we found that they preferentially responded to the images, sounds and faeces of native prey over those of non-native prey. Further, they showed the strongest preference for images and sounds of the wild boar, the most preferred native prey of wild Amur tigers. The innate olfactory, not visual and auditory, preference for native prey had a significant negative correlation with tiger age. Furthermore, we found that innate prey recognition capability was significantly correlated with the personality traits of tigers. In general, this study indicated that Amur tigers recognize native prey instinctually and this instinct could be identified by personality assessment, providing a potential method to preliminarily screen tiger individuals with keen prey recognition instinct for breeding and wild training.