Behavioral ecologists, well versed in addressing functional aspects of behavior, are acknowledging more and more the attention they need also to pay to mechanistic processes. One of these is the role of cognition. Song learning and imprinting are familiar examples of behaviors for which cognition plays an important role, but attention is now turning to other behaviors and a wider diversity of species. We focus here on work that investigates the nature of spatial learning and memory in the context of behaviors such as foraging and food storing. We also briefly explore the difficulties of studying cognition in the field. The common thread to all of this work is the value of using psychological techniques as tools for assessing learning and memory abilities in order to address questions of interest to behavioral ecologists.

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