The cost of limited attention in blue jays

Reuven Dukas, Alan C. Kamil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Experiments with fish and birds suggest that animals are unable to simultaneously allocate sufficient attention to tasks such as the detection of an approaching predator while searching for cryptic prey. We quantified the effects of limited attention on performance in controlled laboratory settings and report here the first direct evidence that attending to a difficult central task simulating foraging deters a bird's ability to detect a peripheral target, which could be a predator. Our results fill a gap between ecological and neurobiological studies by illustrating that, although attention is an efficient filtering mechanism, limited attention may be a major cause of mortality in nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-506
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000


  • Attention
  • Blue jays
  • Cyanocitta cristata
  • Survival
  • Vigilance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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