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Field experiments to identify tool use variations in capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus)

Grant number: 20/10412-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2020
Effective date (End): August 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Animal Behavior
Principal Investigator:Tiago Falótico
Grantee:Andrews Michel Fernandes Oliveira Nunes
Home Institution: Instituto de Psicologia (IP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:18/01292-9 - Cultural variation in robust capuchin monkeys (Sapajus spp.), AP.JP

Abstract

Tool use has been observed in chimpanzees, orangutans, long-tailed macaques and capuchin monkeys, and can present great variation between populations. Capuchins use percussive stone tools to process and access protected resources, such as seeds, fruits and mollusks, and also as "hoes" to dig up tubers, roots and invertebrates from their burrows. To reach for hidden prey, some capuchins' populations use sticks as probes, which are used as arm extension to reach places difficult to access. These tool-handling behaviors are, at least partially, transmitted through social learning. These socially learned behaviors, disseminated and maintained in a population or group for a certain time are called traditions or cultures. To better understand tool use traditions and their variations in capuchin monkeys, we will study two populations, at Ubajara National Park (CE) and at Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park (GO). Two problem boxes that require probe tools to be solved will be used, one more naturalistic, made of wood; and a simpler one, made of plexiglass. The main goal is to identify if the studied groups have the probe tool behavior in their repertoire and if this behavior differs from other populations that preset the same behavior. If this behavior is not exhibited spontaneously, a facilitated situation will be presented to the monkeys (sticks available), to check if and how easily the monkeys solve the box. This research is part of the Young Investigator project "Cultural variation in capuchin monkeys (Sapajus spp)", which aims to compare different populations of capuchin monkeys, analyzing behavior (focused on the use of tools), ecology and genetics; thus having a comprehensive view of the variations and their possible causes. (AU)