Abstract # 95:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2007 10:30 AM-10:45 AM: Session 9 (North Main Hall F/G) Symposium

How to Account for the Induction of Traditions in Captive Groups of Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus apella)

J. Crast and D. Fragaszy
University of Georgia, Department of Psychology, Athens, GA 30602, USA
     The existence of behavioral traditions in nonhuman species in natural settings is widely accepted, yet empirical demonstrations are rare. This demonstration requires showing that the social context contributed to acquisition of a skill. Here, we focus on our methodological approach to achieving this goal with captive social groups of capuchins. We simulated a foraging challenge with two methods of solution and presented two generations of young monkeys with the tasks in different contexts. We will evaluate our approach to coding and analysis of the first generation of youngsters (N=14, age: one year) and discuss the suitability of this approach for the second generation. To determine what social factors were important for learning, we compared solvers with non-solvers on their rates of contact and scrounging at the apparatus while alone and with others (kin, adults, peers). Preliminary data suggest that social interaction at the apparatus and the presence of kin in the group play strong roles in skill acquisition in these groups. These factors appear to be more important for learning than observing a demonstrator. How we characterize the dynamic temporal and spatial structure of activity of the focal animal and the group as a whole over time and how we link this structure to learning must draw upon concepts used in dynamic systems, distributed cognition and collaborative learning.