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Keywords:

  • extractive foraging;
  • manipulation;
  • Cebines;
  • object use

Abstract

Observed patterns of variability in the food-processing behavior of white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) across populations may reflect foraging traditions. However, there has been relatively little attention given to intrapopulation variability in food processing among groups and age/sex classes, making recent cross-population comparisons difficult to interpret. In this paper, we provide data on patterns of object use in foraging that we observed at Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica, for comparison with published data from a neighboring research site, Palo Verde National Park. We also describe the techniques used to process two food items consumed by Cebus capucinus at Santa Rosa, and discuss the factors that may underlie observed variability. We conducted a 6-month study on two groups of capuchins in 2001, and collected data on general activity and feeding patterns, rates and forms of object use, and distinctive processing techniques employed for two specific foods (Sloanea terniflora and Luehea candida). Rates of object-use behavior at Santa Rosa were considerably higher than those reported for Palo Verde and showed significant variation between groups and age/sex classes, as did patterns of Sloanea and Luehea processing. Observed differences in feeding rates between groups may reflect food availability or relative profitability, whereas variation between age/sex classes seems to reflect differences in the physical capabilities, foraging strategies, and the relative experience of mature and immature animals. Further research is needed to identify how a social context may influence the acquisition of food-processing techniques in juveniles and the development of foraging traditions in social groups. Am J Phys Anthropol 128:63–73, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.