Experimental evidence for social transmission of food acquisition techniques in wild meerkats

@article{Thornton2009ExperimentalEF,
  title={Experimental evidence for social transmission of food acquisition techniques in wild meerkats},
  author={Alex Thornton and Aurore Malapert},
  journal={Animal Behaviour},
  year={2009},
  volume={78},
  pages={255-264}
}
Despite major evolutionary implications, patterns of social information transmission in natural populations remain poorly understood. We used an experiment to examine the spread of novel food acquisition techniques through groups of wild meerkats, Suricata suricatta . We trained individual ‘demonstrators’ in six groups to obtain food from an apparatus using one of two techniques. A further three control groups had no demonstrators. We found evidence for social learning on two levels. First, a… Expand

Figures and Tables from this paper

Cultural behaviours can be experimentally induced in wild baboons despite constraints on social information transmission
TLDR
Experimentally introduced four innovations across three troops of wild chacma baboons, which quickly spread through all the social groups in which they were tested, suggesting that the formation of animal cultures can be surprisingly resilient to constraints on information transmission. Expand
Observational learning in orangutan cultural transmission chains
TLDR
Investigation of whether orangutans would learn a novel foraging method through observation of a conspecific in a diffusion-chain paradigm testing for the spread of the behaviour found results consistent with claims for social transmission of foraging methods in wild oranguts. Expand
Potent Social Learning and Conformity Shape a Wild Primate’s Foraging Decisions
TLDR
Here, it is shown experimentally that wild vervet monkeys will abandon personal foraging preferences in favor of group norms new to them, a more potent force than hitherto recognized in shaping group differences among wild animals. Expand
Identification of Learning Mechanisms in a Wild Meerkat Population
TLDR
A novel method that allows social and asocial learning mechanisms to be determined in animal groups from the patterns of interaction with, and solving of, a task is developed, deployed to analyse learning in groups of wild meerkats presented with a novel foraging apparatus. Expand
Memory, transmission and persistence of alternative foraging techniques in wild common marmosets
TLDR
The results show that wild common marmosets were able to memorize, learn socially and maintain preferences of foraging techniques and provides the basis for long-term studies on tradition formation. Expand
Individual and ecological determinants of social information transmission in the wild
Social information, acquired through the observation of others, has been documented in a variety of adaptive contexts. The transmission of social information relies on social connections andExpand
Resilience of experimentally seeded dietary traditions in wild vervets: Evidence from group fissions
TLDR
Results of two natural fission events in vervet monkey groups are reported that offer novel evidence of the resilience of socially transmitted group norms of behavior and question the adequacy of the informational function usually ascribed to conformity. Expand
Environmental and life history factors, but not age, influence social learning about food: a meta-analysis
Social learning is widespread across the animal kingdom and used by individuals to acquire adaptive behaviour across a range of contexts, from mate choice to migration. However, while multipleExpand
Larger group sizes facilitate the emergence and spread of innovations in a group-living bird
TLDR
A nonlinear decline in the time taken for the innovative behaviour to emerge with increasing group size is found, and social information use facilitated the transmission of novel behaviour, with it spreading more quickly in larger than smaller groups. Expand
Imitation and Traditions in Wild Banded Mongooses
TLDR
This experimental demonstration of a foraging tradition in wild mammals provides critical evidence to support previous accounts of traditions in nonhuman animals based on distribution patterns of natural behaviors and shows that social learning need not lead to an increased behavioral homogeneity within groups. Expand
...
1
2
3
4
5
...

References

SHOWING 1-10 OF 51 REFERENCES
The Maintenance of Traditions in Marmosets: Individual Habit, Not Social Conformity? A Field Experiment
TLDR
The results indicate that the maintenance of behavioural patterns within groups do not require social conformity as a mechanism and could be explained by the first rewarded manipulation and subsequent habit formation. Expand
Conformity to cultural norms of tool use in chimpanzees
TLDR
It is shown that experimentally introduced technologies will spread within different ape communities, and a subset of chimpanzees that discovered the alternative method nevertheless went on to match the predominant approach of their companions, showing a conformity bias that is regarded as a hallmark of human culture. Expand
Establishing an experimental science of culture: animal social diffusion experiments
  • A. Whiten, A. Mesoudi
  • Biology, Medicine
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  • 2008
TLDR
A review of the existing corpus of 33 diffusion experiments in fishes, birds, rodents and primates and the first systematic analysis of the diversity of experimental designs that have arisen is offered, generating an array with 21 possible cells. Expand
Scrounging prevents cultural transmission of food-finding behaviour in pigeons
Abstract Living in groups should promote the cultural transmission of a novel behaviour because opportunities for observing knowledgeable individuals are likely to be more numerous in this condition.Expand
Cultural innovation and transmission of tool use in wild chimpanzees: evidence from field experiments
TLDR
Evidence from three complementary approaches in a group of oil-palm nut- (Elaeis guineensis) cracking chimpanzees at Bossou, Guinea demonstrates a mechanism for the emergence of culture in wild chimpanzees. Expand
The rise and fall of an arbitrary tradition: an experiment with wild meerkats
TLDR
Experimental groups initially preferred the landmark chosen by demonstrators, even though an equally rewarding alternative was nearby, leading to the establishment of local traditions, but individuals that learned that one landmark was profitable began to explore the other rather than conforming to the majority behaviour, so traditions collapsed over time. Expand
Radiocollars do not affect the survival or foraging behaviour of wild meerkats
TLDR
No evidence to suggest radiocollars impact negatively on the bearer’s welfare, survival or foraging ability is found on a wild population of habituated meerkats Suricata suricatta. Expand
Scrounging facilitates social learning in common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus
We investigated the effect of close social interaction on the ability to learn a new behaviour via observation. The task chosen involved sliding a small door horizontally to gain access to a foodExpand
Social learning of a novel foraging patch in families of free-living Florida scrub-jays
TLDR
Free-living juvenile Florida scrub-jays, Aphelocoma coerulescens, learned to forage in a novel patch (the centre of a ring) when in proximity to other family members that foraged successfully, and it is shown that social learning occurred. Expand
Cultures in chimpanzees
TLDR
It is found that 39 different behaviour patterns, including tool usage, grooming and courtship behaviours, are customary or habitual in some communities but are absent in others where ecological explanations have been discounted. Expand
...
1
2
3
4
5
...