Primate spatial strategies and cognition: Introduction to this special issue



Wild primates face significant challenges associated with locating resources that involve learning through exploration, encoding, and recalling travel routes, orienting to single landmarks or landmark arrays, monitoring food availability, and applying spatial strategies that reduce effort and increase efficiency. These foraging decisions are likely to involve tradeoffs between traveling to nearby or distant feeding sites based on expectations of resource productivity, predation risk, the availability of other nearby feeding sites, and individual requirements associated with nutrient balancing. Socioecological factors that affect primate foraging decisions include feeding competition, intergroup encounters, mate defense, and opportunities for food sharing. The nine research papers in this Special Issue, “Primate Spatial Strategies and Cognition,” address a series of related questions examining how monkeys, apes, and humans encode, internally represent, and integrate spatial, temporal, and quantity information in efficiently locating and relocating productive feeding sites in both small-scale and large-scale space. The authors use a range of methods and approaches to study wild and captive primates, including computer and mathematical modeling, virtual reality, and detailed examinations of animal movement using GPS and GIS analyses to better understand primate cognitive ecology and species differences in decision-making. We conclude this Introduction by identifying a series of critical questions for future research designed to document species-specific differences in primate spatial cognition. Am. J. Primatol. 76:393–398, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.