Problem-solving of the cylinder, tile and lever tasks by wild animals in Dryandra National Park, Western Australia

Misha K. Rowell, Natasha Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Problem-solving is an important ability that allows animals to overcome environmental challenges. As such, it is a useful measure of behavioural flexibility and could be beneficial for conservation work. However, there is currently little known about the solving abilities of many Australian species, despite the high threat of environmental degradation and loss that they face. We therefore measured the problem-solving abilities of native Australian species living in the Dryandra National Park, Western Australia using food-baited puzzles (cylinder task, tile task and lever task) placed in front of camera traps. We recorded 12 species on cameras, with 10 species interacting with at least one puzzle. Of these species, woylies and koomal solved all tasks across multiple sites and using multiple behaviours, suggesting that they may be capable of adapting to novel conditions or environments. We also recorded a chuditch solving the tile task at one site. Regardless of species and puzzle type, animals had a higher chance of solving puzzles with increasing interactions. Our results document the first occurrence of problem-solving in woylies and chuditch, and highlight the potential for problem-solving measures to be incorporated into conservation management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2030-2040
Number of pages11
JournalAustral Ecology
Issue number8
Early online date12 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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