Abstract # 1982 Event # 228:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 19, 2006 01:15 PM-01:30 PM: Session 22 (Regency East #1) Oral Presentation

Tap, Pound, Rub: Sensory Information and Foraging Decisions in Capuchins (Cebus apella)

K. A. Phillips
Hiram College, Departments of Psychology and Biology, 11715 Garfield Rd., Hiram, OH 44234, USA
     Capuchin monkeys, known for their varied diet and skilled food-processing behavior, are ideal subjects to study the sensory information used in detecting and selecting food items. Capuchins employ a wide variety of food-processing and investigative techniques presumably to discern information about the quality and palatability of the food. This research investigated the type and rate of food-processing behavior capuchins direct to hard nuts and fruits. Ripe foods were expected to elicit more investigative acts before consumption than unripe foods. Observational data were collected on a troop of brown capuchins (N=10) at the Tambopata National Reserve, Peru. Focal animal sampling was used to record food-processing techniques during June – October 2002. Total focal observation time spent in food-processing behavior was < 5%. Overall, subjects engaged in 0.93 food-processing bouts/hr (tapping, pounding, and rubbing). Food items that were consumed had significantly more investigative behavior directed to them before consumption than did foods that were not consumed (paired t-test, p < 0.05). While there were no significant differences in tapping behavior across age and sex classes, females and older juveniles performed this behavior at the highest rates. Given the cost of extracting hard nuts and fruits for females and juveniles, increased investigative behavior may facilitate efficient foraging. While these food processing behaviors certainly contribute to the extractability of the food, these results indicate capuchins also use sensory information gained from these behaviors to assess whether an item merits further manipulation.