Rebecca Kern

Date of Award


Document Type



Biological Sciences


Learning ability of Bufo americanus, the American toad, was tested to compare the effects of partial reinforcement versus continuous reinforcement schedules. Limited learning ability was demonstrated by this species, possibly due to a lack of subject motivation as a result of temperature or seasonality. During the trials, a distinctive behavior was observed in nearly all subjects where the distal portion of digit IV of the hind limb was moved vigorously up and down. This pedal movement was observed only while toads were actively pursuing or consuming prey, and sometimes occurred more frequently in the digit in closest proximity to the prey. Other species of anurans, including leptodactylids and hylids, are known to employ pedal-luring strategies during prey capture, so a pedal-luring hypothesis was investigated. No evidence supporting this hypothesis was discovered in this study, but further research is needed to continue to examine the purpose of this behavior.