Spread of a Terrestrial Tradition in an Arboreal Primate



ABSTRACT  We present data on the spread of terrestrial activities in one group of wild northern muriqui monkeys (Brachyteles hypoxanthus). Both males and females consumed fruit, drank, rested, traveled, and socialized terrestrially, but proportionately more males spent significantly more of their time on the ground than females, and females were more likely to engage in terrestrial activities when accompanied by males than when by themselves. Terrestrial activities occurred in both open and closed habitats where arboreal substrates were available and utilized by other individuals engaged in similar activities. Ecological and demographic factors may have stimulated the muriquis’ vertical niche expansion, but increases in the frequency and diversity of terrestrial activities, the high proportion of group members that engage in terrestriality, and its diffusion along male-biased social bonds are consistent with the development of a local terrestrial tradition similar to other types of traditions described in other primates. [Key words: terrestriality, ecology, predation, tradition]