Abstract # 13199 Poster # 67:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 9, 2018 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Chula Vista ) Poster Presentation


MUZZLE CONTACTS AS A MECHANISM OF INFORMATION TRANSFER IN THREE TROOPS SOUTH AFRICAN FREE-RANGING VERVET MONKEYS

C. M. Nord1, S. P. Henzi1,2 and L. Barrett1,2
1Department of Psychology, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, Department of Psychology, Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4, USA, 2Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
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     Vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) engage frequently in muzzle contact, where one individual (the initiator) brings its muzzle into close proximity to the muzzle of a conspecific (the receiver). Muzzle contacts occur daily among vervet monkeys and persist throughout the lifespan. Early research hypothesized that muzzle contacts promoted social learning for foraging, especially between inexperienced young and more experienced adults. However, there has been little consequent research regarding the possible behavioral function(s) of muzzle contact behavior. Here we compare the behavior of initiators pre- and post-muzzle contact in free-ranging vervets and analyze whether initiators are more likely to forage after engaging in muzzle-contact with a recipient who is currently foraging. We predict that if muzzle contacts provide information, the initiator should itself forage after muzzle contact with a foraging receiver. Muzzle contact dyads (n= 2,244) were collected ad libitum over nine months across 106 individuals in three troops of free-ranging vervet monkeys in South Africa. Our binomial family-generalized linear model confirms our prediction by indicating that initiators are more likely to forage after muzzle contacting a receiver who was foraging (comparisons between the full and null model: log-likelihood = -1166.1, X2 = 196.52, df = 3, p < 2.2e-16, R2MARGINAL = 0.260, R2CONDITIONAL = 0.260) . This suggests that vervets are using muzzle contacts to gather information about potential foraging targets.