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Ecological and social influences in the use of lithic tools for digging in the foraging of tufted capuchin monkeys from the Serra da Capivara National Park (PI, Brazil)

Grant number: 21/04771-8
Support Opportunities:BIOTA-FAPESP Program - Regular Research Grants
Duration: November 01, 2021 - October 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Animal Behavior
Principal Investigator:Eduardo Benedicto Ottoni
Grantee:Eduardo Benedicto Ottoni
Host Institution: Instituto de Psicologia (IP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The use of tools by capuchin monkeys in free and semi-free environments has been studied in Brazil for more than two decades, and the two wild populations submitted to long-term studies are located in Piauí, in the region of Fazenda Boa Vista (FBV), in Gilbués, and in the Serra da Capivara National Park (SCNP), in São Raimundo Nonato, with approximately 320km of distance between them. However, the SCNP population has a distinct and, in some cases, apparently unique behavioral repertoire, such as the use of stick probes and of stone tools for digging the soil. This population uses stones to excavate roots, tubers and some species of arachnids that burrow in the ground. This behavior has so far been little studied, especially regarding its ontogenetic development. This study aims to contribute to the understanding of the use of stone tools to dig the soil in search of resources, through the investigation of the ecological factors, as well as the potential social influences in the acquisition of this behavior, its development, and the potential contribution of socially biased learning mechanisms. We also look to assess potential interspecific influences: whether the behavior of other species, such as wild pigs - which dig the same resources -contributes to the acquisition of the technique by capuchin monkeys. Thus, we will follow the Pedra Furada and the Bocão groups, at the SCNP - both observed in previous studies using stone tools for excavation (Mannu & Ottoni, 2009; Falótico et al., 2017) - mapping the excavation sites and their reuse, the excavated resources, the tools used and the behaviour of the monkeys - with special attention to social interactions - during the excavation events. (AU)

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