Field experiments with wild primates reveal no consistent dominance-based bias in social learning
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Directed social learning suggests that information flows through social groups in a nonrandom way, with individuals biased to obtain information from certain conspecifics. A bias to copy the behaviour of more dominant individuals has been demonstrated in captive chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, but has yet to be studied in any wild animal population. To test for this bias using a field experiment, one dominant and one low-ranking female in each of three groups of wild vervet monkeys, Chlorocebus aethiops pygerythrus, was trained on alternative methods of opening an ‘artificial fruit’. Following 100 demonstrations from each model, fruits that could be opened either way were presented to each group and all openings were recorded. Overall, the dominant females were not attended to more than low-ranking females during the demonstrations, nor were their methods preferentially used in the test phase. We conclude that these monkeys show no overall bias to copy high-ranking models that would lead to a high-ranking model's behaviour becoming more prevalent in the group than a behaviour demonstrated by a low-ranking model. However, by contrast, there were significant effects of observer monkeys' rank and sex upon the likelihood they would match the dominant model. Additionally we found that the dominant models were more likely to stick to their initially learned method than were low-ranking models.
Botting , J , Whiten , A , Grampp , M & van de Waal , E 2018 , ' Field experiments with wild primates reveal no consistent dominance-based bias in social learning ' , Animal Behaviour , vol. 136 , pp. 1-12 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.11.025
© 2017 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 as such 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.2017.11.025
DescriptionThis project was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number 31003A_159587) and Society in Science–Branco Weiss Fellowship to E.v.d.W and a John Templeton Foundation grant to A.W. and Kevin Laland (grant number ID40128).
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