Abstract # 59:

Scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009 06:30 PM-09:00 PM: Session 5 (Mission Bay Ballroom CDE) Poster Presentation


SOCIAL LEARNING AND DIFFUSION OF NOVEL FORAGING TASKS IN ORANGUTANS (PONGO PYGMAEUS X PONGO ABELII)

M. Dindo1,4, T. Stoinski2, F. Subiaul1,4 and A. Whiten3
1The George Washington University, 801 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA, 2Zoo Atlanta, 3University of St Andrews, 4Smithsonian National Zoological Park
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The present study used a diffusion chain paradigm to investigate whether a novel foraging task could be observationally learned by zoo-living orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus x Pongo abelii) and then transmitted along a chain of individuals. Either of two methods (slide or lift) could be used to open the door of a foraging apparatus to retrieve food. One adult male was trained to exclusively slide the door and demonstrate this method to another orangutan in his social group. The observer then had the opportunity to manipulate the apparatus to gain access to food. If the observer was able to open the apparatus twenty times by either method, it then became the demonstrator for a new subject in the group, thus simulating the spread of a foraging tradition among ‘generations’ of group members. Observers in the slide group [n1=5] were all from the same group, while three smaller groups [n2=6] took part in the lift condition of the study. Since the groups did not always have complete visual access to demonstrations, video-tapes were used to demonstrate the model’s actions. The model-seeded technique was successfully transmitted along both experimental chains with consistent preference for the respective method [n1=3, 59/60 slide, two-tailed binomial p<0.0001; n2=5; 100/100 lift; two-tailed binomial p<0.0001]. These results are consistent with claims for social transmission of foraging methods in wild orangutans.