Abstract # 92:

Scheduled for Friday, June 22, 2007 09:45 AM-10:00 AM: Session 9 (North Main Hall F/G) Symposium

Socially Mediated Learning about Food and Foraging in Wild Golden Lion Tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia)

L. Rapaport1,2
1Clemson University, Department of Biological Sciences, 132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634, USA, 2University of New Mexico
     Evidence from the field and laboratory is unequivocal: young callitrichids rely heavily on socially mediated learning to gain information about food and foraging. Surprisingly, much of this learning is not in the form of infant-initiated/adult-tolerated interactions so characteristic of nonhuman primates. Instead, adults often play an active role, altering their behavior such that learning by their groups’ young may be facilitated. I conducted a longitudinal study of young wild golden lion tamarins 11-56 weeks of age, in nine groups. As in other populations, food-offering vocalizations encouraged transfer to young of prey that the adults had captured. In addition, the tamarins emitted these vocalizations more frequently, and with multiple calls, when the prey in hand was still living, which suggests the calls have a training role. Adults alerted juveniles to the location of hidden prey, encouraging the young with these same vocalizations to approach and search (15 events in 2323 hours). These and other observations illustrate how field studies provide the opportunity to examine a wide range of food-related behaviors, especially those involving prey, not available to laboratory animals and under species-typical selection pressures. However, the researcher is hampered by a lack of complete knowledge regarding the previous experience of wild subjects. Long-term focal studies in the wild combined with experiments on laboratory subjects may offer the best strategy for understanding social learning in callitrichids.