New perspectives in primate cognitive ecology

The papers in this issue are from a symposium presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists held in Buffalo, New York, in April 2002. In the light of recent theoretical and methodological advances and debates in the study of cognition, this symposium addressed questions concerning primate cognitive ecology and […]

Training vervet monkeys to avoid electric wires: Is there evidence for social learning?

Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20041.abs Before being released into a large park enclosed by an electric fence, a wild-caught vervet group (Chlorocebus aethiops) had to learn to avoid electrified wires in a smaller cage. During this training, we observed the group continuously for 12 consecutive days to investigate if social learning was involved in the learning process. Results […]

Social-learning abilities of wild vervet monkeys in a two-step task artificial fruit experiment

Social learning is the basis for the formation of traditions in both human and nonhuman animals. Field observations and experiments provide evidence for the existence of traditions in animals but they do not address the underlying social-learning mechanisms. We used an established laboratory experimental paradigm, the artificial fruit design, to test for copying of a […]

Experimental studies of traditions and underlying transmission processes in chimpanzees

Multiple regional differences in tool use have been identified among wild chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, but the hypothesis that these represent traditions, transmitted through social learning, is difficult to substantiate without experimentation. To test chimpanzees’ capacity to sustain traditions, we seeded alternative tool use techniques in single individuals in different captive groups. One technique, [`]Lift’, spread […]

Effectiveness of familiar kin and unfamiliar nonkin demonstrator rats in altering food choices of their observers

In a series of three experiments, we examined the prediction from formal theories of the evolution of social learning that, all else being equal, animals should be more likely to learn socially from familiar individuals or kin than from unfamiliar individuals or nonkin. In all three experiments, contrary to prediction, naïve Norway rats, Rattus norvegicus, […]

The role of social context and individual experience in novel task acquisition in cottontop tamarins, Saguinus oedipus

In socially tolerant settings, naïve individuals may have opportunities to interact jointly with knowledgeable demonstrators and novel tasks. This process is expected to facilitate social learning. Individual experience may also be important for reinforcing and honing socially acquired behaviours. We examined the role of joint interaction and individual experience in the acquisition of a novel […]

Social transmission of information about novel food in two populations of the African striped mouse, Rhabdomys pumilio

Social learning involves the transmission of information from demonstrators to conspecifics. The mother is expected to be the main demonstrator in solitary species, whereas several individuals can be demonstrators in group-living species. We studied social learning about novel food in two populations of the African striped mouse, with different social systems: a desert population (group […]

Enhanced social learning between siblings in common ravens, Corvus corax

It has been suggested that social dynamics affect social learning but empirical support for this idea is scarce. Here we show that affiliate relationships among kin indeed enhance the performance of common ravens, Corvus corax, in a social learning task. Via daily behavioural protocols we first monitored social dynamics in our group of captive young […]

Trade-offs between social learning and individual innovativeness in common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus

Social learning and innovation are two different ways to acquire novel behaviours, and the form of the relationship between these two processes strongly affects cultural evolution. Whereas modelling results suggest a negative correlation between the two processes within a species, comparative data show, and the cultural intelligence hypothesis predicts, positive covariation across species. Thus, there […]

Social learning of escape routes in zebrafish and the stability of behavioural traditions

Multiple factors potentially influence the formation and longevity of behavioural traditions. In zebrafish, Danio rerio, we investigated whether subjects follow knowledgeable fish escaping from a novel artificial predator, learn this escape response, and maintain the demonstrated escape route and response when knowledgeable fish were removed. A moving [`]trawl’ net forced fish to escape via one […]