Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Primates Take Weather Into Account When Searching For Fruits

Date:
June 28, 2006
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
New findings reported this week reveal that at least some primates can use their stored knowledge of recent weather as a tool for guiding their foraging behavior when searching for ripening fruit. The work, which potentially informs our understanding of how cognitive skills developed in humans and other primates, is reported by Karline Janmaat, Richard Byrne, and Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of St. Andrews in the June 20th issue of Current Biology.

New findings reported this week reveal that at least some primates can use their stored knowledge of recent weather as a tool for guiding their foraging behavior when searching for ripening fruit. The work, which potentially informs our understanding of how cognitive skills developed in humans and other primates, is reported by Karline Janmaat, Richard Byrne, and Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of St. Andrews in the June 20th issue of Current Biology.

The question of why primates, and especially humans, have more strongly developed cognitive skills than other mammals has a long history in science. The most widely accepted notion has been that primates' superior cognitive abilities have evolved in the social realm. Many primate species live in complex societies, and, the argument goes, this favored the evolution of especially developed social skills. Although there is much empirical evidence in favor of the social-intelligence hypothesis, very little work has been conducted to address its alternative, the idea that primate cognition has evolved to deal with problems of an ecological nature, such as foraging for food.

With their new work, the researchers sought to address this anomalous gap. By following a group of wild gray-cheeked mangabeys from dawn to dusk over 210 days in their natural rainforest habitat of Kibale Forest, Uganda, the scientists obtained an almost complete record of their foraging decisions in relation to their preferred food, figs. The data showed that the monkeys were more likely to revisit fig trees (in which they had found fruit before) after a period of warm and sunny days than after a period of cold and cloudy days. Temperature and solar radiation are known to accelerate maturation of fruits and insect larvae inside them. The researchers were able to show that past weather conditions--as opposed to sensory cues such as the smell of ripe fruit--accounted for the behavioral trend they observed.

These findings are consistent with the idea that monkeys make foraging decisions on the basis of episodic (or "event-based") memories of whether or not a tree previously carried fruit, combined with knowledge of recent and present weather conditions and a more generalized understanding of the relationship between temperature and solar radiation and the maturation rate of fruit and insect larvae. The findings are also consistent with the idea that the evolution of primate cognitive skills has proceeded, at least in part, as a result of ecological challenges associated with foraging for intermittently available food such as ripening fruit.

*For expert commentary on this work, be sure to see the related Dispatch in this issue of Current Biology from Dr. Michael Platt: "Animal Cognition: Monkey Meteorology."

The researchers include Karline R.L. Janmaat, Richard W. Byrne, and Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom.

This research was funded by the Wenner-Gren and Leakey Foundation, the University of St. Andrews' School of Psychology, the Schure-Bijerinck-Popping foundation of the KNAW, the Stichting Kronendak, the Dobberke Stichting voor Vergelijkende Psychology, the Lucy Burger Stichting, and the Foundation Doctor Catharine van Tussenbroek. In Uganda, the researchers thank the Office of the President, the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Makerere University Biological Field Station, and the Kibale Fish and Monkey Project for logistic support and permission to conduct research in Kibale National Park.

Janmaat et al.: "Primates Take Weather into Account when Searching for Fruits." Publishing in Current Biology 16, 1232–1237, June 20, 2006, DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2006.04.031. www.current-biology.com

Related Dispatch by Platt et al.: "Animal Cognition: Monkey Meteorology."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Primates Take Weather Into Account When Searching For Fruits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 June 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060628095838.htm>.
Cell Press. (2006, June 28). Primates Take Weather Into Account When Searching For Fruits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060628095838.htm
Cell Press. "Primates Take Weather Into Account When Searching For Fruits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060628095838.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) — The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) — A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins