• MacDougall-Shackleton, Scott A.
  • Sherry, David F.
  • Clark, Andrew P.
  • Pinkus, Rebecca
  • Hernandez, Alexandra M.


In seasonal environments animals organize their behaviour around annual cycles of resource availability. Wild black-capped chickadees are most likely to hoard food in autumn. At this time of year chickadees are also reported to have a larger hippocampus, a brain area important for spatial memory. This study examined how photoperiodic condition affects these seasonal changes. Captive chickadees were exposed to one of three treatments. Photorefractory birds were held on long days (19:5 h light:dark) and had small gonads. Photosensitive birds were held on short days (LD 9:15 h) and also had small gonads. Photostimulated birds were switched from short to long days and quickly entered breeding condition with large gonads. Photosensitive birds (on short days) stored more seeds than photorefractory birds (on long days). Photostimulated birds stored seeds at a high rate when on short days, but reduced storing when transferred to long days. These results indicate that long days inhibit storing regardless of gonadal condition. There were no differences between groups in hippocampal volume, indicating that photoperiod can produce changes in food-storing behaviour without affecting hippocampal size.