Dominic Bourret

Université de Sherbrooke
M.Sc. candidate

Supervisor: Patrick Bergeron
Dany Garant
Start: 2021-09-01


Quantification of the phenotypic variation of the speed-accuracy trade-off in an eastern chipmunk population
Environmental change can lead to a variation in phenotypic expressions in wild populations. Often, animals will change behaviourally as a way to cope to new environmental factors. If these environmental factors fluctuate consistently, it can give rise to consistent behavioural variation known as personalities. Personalities can vary depending on environmental effects, maternal effects or even the cognitive capacities of the individual. Indeed, some animals may differ on how they learn and act on new information found in their habitat. If the environmental conditions are unstable, the cognitive abilities of an individual can lead to a speed-accuracy trade-off where animals that take decisions faster will make more mistakes and vice versa. Studying animal cognition can serve as an important indicator of animal behavioural adaptive capacities in new environments. Throughout this Master’s research project, I intend on studying the presence of a speed-accuracy trade-off in an eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) population located in the South of Quebec. I will test the decision-making speed of chipmunks while doing a maze and a reverse learning cognitive test and measure how many mistakes they make. I will take into account the year of birth of the chipmunks as the resource availability fluctuates greatly on a two-year cycle. I will also take into account maternal effects and the heritability of traits from the parents in this study.