Abstract # 6314 Event # 262:

Scheduled for Friday, June 19, 2015 09:45 AM-10:00 AM: (Cascade F) Oral Presentation


AN ECOLOGICAL VALIDATION OF THE NOVELTY SEEKING TRAIT IN WILD VERVET MONKEYS (CHLOROCEBUS PYGERYTHRUS) IN SOETDORING NATURE RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA

M. B. Blaszczyk1,2
1Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA, 2New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology
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     Consistent individual differences in novelty seeking behavior have been studied intensively in captive vervet monkeys, where they are known to have a strong genetic basis. Although hypotheses regarding the behavioral ecology of this variation exist, these have not been widely tested in natural populations. Because the development and expression of personality phenotypes is known to be influenced by environmental factors, both the construct and the ecological validity of novelty seeking in wild vervets need to be evaluated. I tested responses of 40 adult and subadult vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus pygerythrus, to a variety of novel objects, in Soetdoring Nature Reserve, South Africa. For tests where individuals differed in their intensity of exploratory behavior, novel object exploration (NOE) scores were repeatable (r = 0.37, p = 0.003) across tests, demonstrating consistency in novelty seeking in a wild population. Mean NOE scores were further positively correlated with the frequency of inspection of naturally occurring snakes, providing an important ecological validation. Males had higher NOE scores than females, and sudadults had higher scores than adults. Although sex differences in novelty seeking have not been found in studies of captive vervets, the demographic properties of both NOE and snake inspection scores in this study are consistent with findings in humans, where higher sensation-seeking among males is well documented. Supported by the Leakey and Wenner-Gren Foundations, ASP, IPS, NYU and AAUW.