Using the Data-Compression Method for Studying Hunting Behavior in Small Mammals

Entropy (Basel). 2019 Apr 4;21(4):368. doi: 10.3390/e21040368.


Using the data-compression method we revealed a similarity between hunting behaviors of the common shrew, which is insectivorous, and several rodent species with different types of diet. Seven rodent species studied displayed succinct, highly predictable hunting stereotypes, in which it was easy for the data compressor to find regularities. The generalist Norway rat, with its changeable manipulation of prey and less predictable transitions between stereotype elements, significantly differs from other species. The levels of complexities of hunting stereotypes in young and adult rats are similar, and both groups had no prior experience with the prey, so one can assume that it is not learning, but rather the specificity of the organization of the stereotype that is responsible for the nature of the hunting behavior in rats. We speculate that rodents possess different types of hunting behaviors, one of which is based on a succinct insectivorous standard, and another type, perhaps characteristic of generalists, which is less ordered and is characterized by poorly predictable transitions between elements. We suggest that the data-compression method may well be more broadly applicable to behavioral analysis.

Keywords: biological texts; complexity; data compression; hunting stereotype; insectivorous; rodents.