Abstract # 83:

Scheduled for Saturday, June 21, 2008 03:15 PM-03:25 PM: Session 11 (Meeting Room 1GHI) Oral Presentation


Captive owl monkeys respond to novel flavors with neophobia, discrimination, and food sharing

S. B. Hooff1 and C. K. Wolovich1,2
1Bucknell University, 701 Moore Avenue , Lewisburg, PA 17837, USA, 2DuMond Conservancy Inc., Miami, Fl, 33170, USA
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     A generalist omnivore lacking trichromatic vision, nocturnal owl monkeys (Aotus spp.) may use nonvisual cues when encountering novel foods. Because owl monkeys share food with their mates and offspring, an individual’s response to novelty may affect all members of the group. Eleven groups of captive owl monkeys (DuMond Conservancy) were presented with a familiar food, apple, with or without novel flavors added. Interactions with the food (bite, lick, drop, sniff), social interactions involving food (approach, investigate, resist, beg, transfer), vocalizations, and sociosexual behaviors were recorded continuously. Novel-flavored food was sniffed significantly more often, bitten less often, and dropped more often than unflavored food [Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Tests, a=0.05]. Female latency to ingest and the frequency of male sniffs were significantly greater for novel-flavored food than control food. There were significantly more social interactions involving novel-flavored food than control food. In particular, it was males, the primary caretakers of young, that engaged in significantly more of these social interactions with the novel-flavored food than with the control food. Finally, there was an almost significant trend for rates of dropping apple peels which varied among novel flavors [Kruskal-Wallis, a=0.10]. Neophobic responses to novel flavors may preclude owl monkeys from ingesting harmful food, whereas discrimination among novel flavors suggests an ability to compare nonvisual cues among familiar and novel foods.