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Efects of the social dynamics in the diffusion of a novel tool-using behaviours in groups of capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) inhabiting the caatinga of the Serra da Capivara Nacional Park

Grant number: 11/19468-7
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: February 01, 2012 - January 31, 2014
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
Associated researchers:Camila Galheigo Coelho


The existence of behavioral traditions - behaviors acquired via socially-biased learning - in nonhuman animals has been the subject of intense debate in the last decade. In order to be described as a behavioral tradition, a behavior must be analyzed in its three dimensions: (1) the contribution of social context, (2) the degree of dissemination of it and (3) how long the behavior persists within the group. Studying wild populations yields the advantage of working with the complex social and ecological context in which socially-biased learning occurs. However, methods that allow empirical verification of social learning in wild populations (eg, Kendall et al. 2009; Franz & Nunn, 2009) are only just starting to appear. In this study we plan to conduct an experiment in which we will introduce a two-action test in two groups, but in a naturalistic context. We intend to monitor the occurrence of an innovation (task resolution) in groups of wild neotropical monkeys, map the groups' social networks and monitor the dissemination of behavior throughout group members. If indeed there is a correlation between the route of dissemination and the social networks, we will have empirical basis to assert that the behavior is socially transmitted, and to validate the claims of behavioral traditions in capuchin monkeys. (AU)

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