Lack of conformity to new local dietary preferences in migrating captive chimpanzees
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Conformity to the behavioural preferences of others can have powerful effects on intra-group behavioural homogeneity in humans, but evidence in animals remains minimal. In this study, we took advantage of circumstances in which individuals or pairs of captive chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, were “migrated” between groups, to investigate whether immigrants would conform to a new dietary population preference experienced in the group they entered, an effect suggested by recent fieldwork. Such ‘migratory-minority’ chimpanzees were trained to avoid one of two differently-coloured foods made unpalatable, before ‘migrating’ to, and then observing, a ‘local-majority’ group consume a different food colour. Both migratory-minority and local-majority chimpanzees displayed social learning, spending significantly more time consuming the previously unpalatable, but instead now edible, food, than did control chimpanzees who did not see immigrants eat this food, nor emigrate themselves. However, following the migration of migratory-minority chimpanzees, these control individuals and the local-majority chimpanzees tended to rely primarily upon personal information, consuming first the food they had earlier learned was palatable before sampling the alternative. Thus, chimpanzees did not engage in conformity in the context we tested; instead seeing others eat a previously unpalatable food led to socially learned and adaptive re-exploration of this now-safe option in both minority and majority participants.
Vale , G L , Davis , S J , van de Waal , E , Schapiro , S J , Lambeth , S P & Whiten , A 2017 , ' Lack of conformity to new local dietary preferences in migrating captive chimpanzees ' Animal Behaviour , vol 124 , pp. 135-144 . DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.12.007
© 2016 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.12.007
G.L.V., S.D. and A.W. were funded by the John Templeton Foundation (Grant ID: 40128 to A.W. and K. Laland). Support for the chimpanzee colony came from NIHU42-OD-011197.
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