The Response to Novel Foods in Common Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus): The Effects of Different Social Contexts

Authors

  • Augusto Vitale,

    Corresponding author
    1. Section of Comparative Psychology, Laboratorio di Fisiopatologia di Organo e di Sistema, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome and Museo di Storia Naturale, Università degli Studi di Parma
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  • Armelle Queyras

    1. Section of Comparative Psychology, Laboratorio di Fisiopatologia di Organo e di Sistema, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome and Museo di Storia Naturale, Università degli Studi di Parma
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Section of Comparative Psychology, Laboratorio di Fisiopatologia di Organo e di Sistema, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, I-00161 Rome, Italy. E-mail: vitale@istsan.interbusiness.it

Abstract

The main aim of this study was to verify if the response to novel foods in common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is influenced by different social settings. This question was tested in three tests involving four social groups. The data regarding the response to novel foods were collected from a total of eight food-naive young. In particular, we explored if direct contacts between food-naive and experienced individuals would have a different effect on the response to novel food by the first, in comparison with a situation in which only visual contacts were allowed. These two different social settings were then compared to a situation in which the response to novel food was not mediated by the experience of group-mates. The results showed a significantly higher number of intervals in which naive young, in social settings, were observed feeding compared with a control test. However, this result was confirmed only in the case of novel foods, not in the case of familiar foods. Furthermore, in the tests in which direct social contacts were allowed, naive young obtained food from group-mates significantly more often in the case of novel than familiar foods. This study suggests that although naive young, when left in pairs, responded quickly to novel foods without the need to observe or interact with experienced group-mates, a process of social facilitation was evident. Such a process was not observed in the case of familiar foods, confirming the hypothesis that social facilitation operates in order to acquire novel foods in the diet of the group in the long term.

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