Cultural Transmission of Feeding Behavior in the Black Rat (Rattus rattus)
JOSEPH TERKEL Department of Zoology Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
T oward the end of the 19th-century and during the beginning of the 20th- century, most of the natural oak and pine forests in Israel were cut down. Over the last 50 years they have been replaced with large tracts of Jerusalem pine.
About 14 years ago, during a field trip to the pine forests in the north of the country with his pupils, Ran Aisner, a high school biology teacher, observed piles of bare pine cone shafts that had accumulated beneath certain pine trees (Aisner, 1981). Ran brought some of these cones to me for my opinion on the phenomenon.
When we inspected these pine cone shafts more closely, it became clear that the cones had been detached from the branches of the trees on which they grew, by gnawing, and that the animal that had done so had systematically stripped them of all their scales and removed the seeds that lay concealed beneath. If pine cone shafts in a similar condition had been found in other parts of the world, there is no doubt that squirrels would have been considered the most likely agents of the cone destruction (Smith & Balda, 1979). However, as there are no squirrels in Israel, this possibility was not considered in the present case.
Although the crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) eats pine seeds, it uses a different