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Do primates flexibly use spatio-temporal cues when foraging?

Abstract : Foraging in seasonal environments can be cognitively demanding. Comparative studies have associated large brain size with a frugivorous diet. We investigated the ability of three semi-free-ranging primate species with different degrees of frugivory ( N trials : Macaca tonkeana = 419, Macaca fascicularis = 197, Sapajus apella = 346) in developing a mental representation of the spatio-temporal distribution of food using foraging experiments. Forty-two boxes were fixed on trees, and each week (“season”), some of them were filled with fruits which were either highly preferred, or less preferred. Spatial (geometrical panels) and temporal (peel skin of the available fruit) cues were present at each season to indicate where (food location), what (which food) was available, and when. To test the flexible use of the cues in primate foraging behaviour, we first removed the spatial and temporal cues one at a time, and then, we manipulated the “seasonal” order of the available fruit. We compared the foraging performances in the absence and the presence of the cues and during the usual and unusual seasonal order. The average proportion of baited boxes chosen by the subjects in presence of both cues was high (between 73% and 98%) for all species. The primates seemed to remember the spatio-temporal food availability (or used other cues) because no difference was found between trials with or without our spatial and temporal cues. When the usual seasonal pattern was changed, they flexibly adjusted the feeding choice by using the provided temporal cues. We discuss these results also in view of a possible experimental bias.
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Submitted on : Monday, February 21, 2022 - 7:37:09 PM
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Cinzia Trapanese, Hélène Meunier, Shelly Masi. Do primates flexibly use spatio-temporal cues when foraging?. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2020, 75 (2), pp.232-244. ⟨10.1177/1747021820970724⟩. ⟨mnhn-03583529⟩



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