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Am J Primatol. 2005 Apr;65(4):335-51.

Social influences on the acquisition of sex-typical foraging patterns by juveniles in a group of wild tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus nigritus).

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Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, CNR, Rome, Italy.


Foraging traditions in primates are becoming the subject of increasing debate. Recent evidence for such a phenomenon was recently provided for wild Cebus capucinus [Fragaszy & Perry, 2003]. To better understand the bases of animal traditions, one should examine intrapopulation behavioral variability and the influence of social context on within-group transmission of specific foraging patterns. We studied the variability of foraging patterns across age and sex classes, and the proximity patterns of juveniles to adults of both sexes in a group of wild tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus nigritus) living in the Iguazu National Park, Argentina. Foraging activity was examined for a period of 9 months in terms of proportions of focal samples devoted to foraging on certain food targets, microhabitats, and supports, and using specific foraging patterns. Proximity analyses were performed to reveal patterns of association between juveniles and adults. Sex differences in foraging behavior were present and overrode age differences. Overall, males ate more animal foods, foraged more for invertebrates on woody microhabitats (especially large branches), palms, and epiphytes, and used lower and larger supports than females. Females ate more fruits, foraged more on leaves and bamboo microhabitats, and used smaller supports than males. Juveniles were similar to adults of the same sex in terms of food targets, foraging substrates, and choice of supports, but were less efficient than adults. Proximity patterns indicated that juvenile males stayed in close spatial association with adult males and preferentially focused their "food interest" on them. This phenomenon was less evident in juvenile females. The degree to which juveniles, especially males, showed some of the sex-typical foraging patterns correlated positively with their proximity to adults of the same sex. These findings suggest that the acquisition of foraging behaviors by juvenile males is socially biased by their closeness to adults of the same sex.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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