Resilience of experimentally-seeded dietary traditions in wild vervets : evidence from group fissions
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Controlled laboratory experiments have delivered extensive and compelling evidence for the diffusion and maintenance of socially learned behavior in primates and other animals. Such evidence is rarer in the wild, but we show that a behavior seeded in a majority of individuals within vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythus) groups may be sustained across several years. Here we report results of two natural fission events in such groups that offer novel evidence of the resilience of socially-transmitted group norms of behavior. Before fission, high ranked females exhibited an almost exclusive adherence to a group preference among two food options, originally introduced through a distasteful additive in one option, but no longer present in repeated later tests. Because of rank-dependent competition, low-ranked females ate more of the formerly distasteful food and so discovered it was now as palatable as the alternative. Despite this experience, low ranked females who formed the splinter groups then expressed a 100% bias for the preferred option of their original parent group, revealing these preferences to be resilient. We interpret this effect as conformity to either the preferences of high rankers or of a majority in the parent group, or both. However, given fissioned individuals’ familiarity with their habitat and experimental options, we question the adequacy of the informational function usually ascribed to conformity and discuss alternatives under a concept of "social conformity".
van de Waal , E , van Schaik , C P & Whiten , A 2017 , ' Resilience of experimentally-seeded dietary traditions in wild vervets : evidence from group fissions ' , American Journal of Primatology , vol. 79 , no. 10 , e22687 . https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.22687
American Journal of Primatology
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 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/10.1002/ajp.22687
DescriptionThis work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Sinergia grant CRSI33_133040 to A.W. and C. S., P300P3_151187 and 31003A_159587 to E.W.); the Society in Science - Branco Weiss Fellowship to E.W.; and the John Templeton Foundation (ID 40128 to A.W.).
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