1. Ecology
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Little evidence that Eurasian jays protect their caches by responding to cues about a conspecific's desire and visual perspective

  1. Piero Amodio  Is a corresponding author
  2. Benjamin G Farrar
  3. Christopher Krupenye
  4. Ljerka Ostojic
  5. Nicola S Clayton
  1. Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy
  2. University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  3. Johns Hopkins University, United States
  4. University of Rijeka, Croatia
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e69647 doi: 10.7554/eLife.69647


Eurasian jays have been reported to protect their caches by responding to cues about either the visual perspective or current desire of an observing conspecific, similarly to other corvids. Here, we used established paradigms to test whether these birds can - like humans - integrate multiple cues about different mental states and perform an optimal response accordingly. Across five experiments, which also include replications of previous work, we found little evidence that our jays adjusted their caching behaviour in line with the visual perspective and current desire of another agent, neither by integrating these social cues nor by responding to only one type of cue independently. These results raise questions about the reliability of the previously reported effects and highlight several key issues affecting reliability in comparative cognition research.

Data availability

Data and analyses of all experiments are available at http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4636561

The following data sets were generated
The following previously published data sets were used

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Piero Amodio

    Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Napoli, Italy
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9408-2902
  2. Benjamin G Farrar

    University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Christopher Krupenye

    Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Ljerka Ostojic

    University of Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Nicola S Clayton

    University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


Leverhulme Trust (Study Abroad Scholarship,SAS-2020-004\10)

  • Piero Amodio

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (Doctoral Training Programme,BB/M011194/1)

  • Benjamin G Farrar

European Commission (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship MENTALIZINGORIGINS,Grant reference: 752373)

  • Christopher Krupenye

FP7 Ideas: European Research Council (ERC Grant Agreement N 3399933)

  • Nicola S Clayton

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: All procedures were approved by the University of Cambridge Animal Ethics Committee (reference n. ZOO35/17).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Detlef Weigel, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany

Publication history

  1. Received: April 21, 2021
  2. Accepted: September 9, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 10, 2021 (version 1)


© 2021, Amodio et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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