The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

The use of route-based mental maps for foraging in wild Bolivian saddleback tamarins


1Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, 2Anthropology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois

Thursday 1:45-2:00, Galleria South Add to calendar

In this study we examined the ability of wild saddleback tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis weddelli) to integrate spatial information in foraging decisions. We collected data on one group of tamarins for 4 months in 2009 and in 2011. During the 2011 field season, we also set up 3 feeding platforms located 124-191m apart in the group’s range. In total, we collected data on the group’s travel routes and on the sequential use of feeding sites during 40 complete and 12 partial observation days. We considered plant species that formed ≥ 1% of the diet to be major food sources and we mapped the location of the individual trees of these species. We also recorded the location of the study group at 10 min intervals using a GPS unit, and used GIS software to analyze these data. In total the monkeys used 100 major feeding sites from 13 species, but only 2 of these species and 7 feeding sites were used in both years. Our results indicate that the tamarins used a limited set of nodes to reorient travel (N=9 in 2009, n=6 in 2011) and a larger set of route segments (N=29 in 2009, n=26 in 2011) to move between feeding sites. In addition, there was little overlap in the routes and nodes used between years. Overall, our results indicate that the tamarins employed a route-based mental map to navigate between feeding sites, and this map changed over time in response to changes in the distribution and availability of food resources.

Funded by Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Fresno-Chaffee Zoo, Tinker Foundation of Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies of UIUC, and the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies Center of NIU.

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