Social and personal information use by squirrel monkeys in assessing predation risk

Authors

  • Jackson L. Frechette,

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
    2. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
    • Correspondence to: Jackson L. Frechette, School of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, 110 Newins-Ziegler Hall, PO Box 110430, Gainesville, FL 32611. E-mail: jluc@ufl.edu

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  • Kathryn E. Sieving,

    1. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
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  • Sue Boinski

    1. Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
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Abstract

The threat of predation can significantly influence prey behaviors through altered perceptions of risk. Prey risk perception is constantly updated via collection of personal and social information about predators. Better understanding of the links between information availability, its use, and prey species' perception of risk will aid in explaining how animals adapt to predation. The goal of this study was to determine the environmental and social cues—available to prey via personal and social information, respectively—that influence wild squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) reactivity to potential predators, treated here as a proxy for risk perception. We followed squirrel monkey troops for 3 years in Suriname, South America, and accounted for environmental and social variables associated with potential predator encounters. We utilized logistic regression models applied to a robust and long-term data set to reveal relationships among factors affecting squirrel monkey anti-predator responses. Our analyses revealed that height, season, type of predator stimulus, and mixed-species associations with capuchin monkeys (Sapajus apella) were highly related to intensity of squirrel monkey anti-predator responses. Moreover, our analyses revealed that squirrel monkeys overestimate the immediate threat of predation when individuals have incomplete information regarding the potential predator. Am. J. Primatol. 76:956–966, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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