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 […]

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 […]

Social learning and spread of alternative means of opening an artificial fruit in four groups of vervet monkeys

Two-action experiments, in which observer individuals watch models use one of two alternative methods to achieve the same goal, have become recognized as a powerful method for studying social learning. We applied this approach to vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus aethiops, using an artificial fruit (‘vervetable’) which could be opened by either lifting a door panel on […]