Variation among juvenile capuchins in social influences on exploration



The exploratory or feeding activities of others might influence the timing, the place, or both, of exploratory activities among young group-living individuals, and this influence might affect the information gained by individuals during exploration. This study examined the temporal and spatial aspects of adults' influence on the exploratory behavior of juvenile capuchins, and on the juveniles' acquisition of a novel behavior. Two experimental apparatus, which were initially novel to the juvenile subjects but familiar to the adults, and which provided food when a tool was used properly, were presented to group-housed capuchin monkeys. The apparatus were presented (a) in a central area, in which all animals could interact with the apparatus and in which several older group members regularly solved the tasks (group site), and (b) in a protected site within the home cage (crèche) that only juveniles could enter, but from which the rest of the cage, including the group site, could be viewed. Juveniles contacted the apparatus at the crèche more often when there was no apparatus at the group site, but only half the individuals made greater use of the apparatus at the group site than at the crèche when an apparatus was present at both sites. Seven of nine used an apparatus more often when adults also had an apparatus, than when adults did not have an apparatus. These results indicate that juveniles' exploratory activity is only weakly related to adults' activity. The linkage appears closer for younger juveniles (20 months or less) than for older juveniles. Moreover, as only older juveniles learned to solve the tasks, coordination of exploration with adults was evidently not related to learning a new skill. © Wiley-Liss, Inc.