The use of fruiting synchrony by foraging mangabey monkeys: a 'simple tool' to find fruit

Karline R. L. Janmaat, C. A. Chapman, R. Meijer & Klaus Zuberbühler

Résumé Previous research has shown that a considerable number of primates can remember the location and fruiting state of individual trees in their home range. This enables them to relocate fruit or predict whether previously encountered fruit has ripened. Recent studies, however, suggest that the ability of primates to cognitively map fruit-bearing trees is limited. In this study, we investigated an alternative and arguably simpler, more efficient strategy, the use of synchrony, a botanical characteristic of a large number of fruit species. Synchronous fruiting would allow the prediction of the fruiting state of a large number of trees without having to first check the trees. We studied whether rainforest primates, grey-cheeked mangabeys in the Kibale National Park, Uganda, used synchrony in fruit emergence to find fruit. We analysed the movements of adult males towards Uvariopsis congensis food trees, a strongly synchronous fruiting species with different local patterns of synchrony. Monkeys approached within crown distance, entered and inspected significantly more Uvariopsis trees when the percentage of trees with ripe fruit was high compared to when it was low. Since the effect was also found for empty trees, the monkeys likely followed a synchrony-based inspection strategy. We found no indication that the monkeys generalised this strategy to all Uvariopsis trees within their home range. Instead, they attended to fruiting peaks in local areas within the home range and adjusted their inspective behaviour accordingly revealing that non-human primates use botanical knowledge in a flexible way.
Citation Janmaat, K. R. L., Chapman, C. A., Meijer, R., & Zuberbühler, K. (2012). The use of fruiting synchrony by foraging mangabey monkeys: a 'simple tool' to find fruit. Animal Cognition, 15(1), 83-96.
Type Article de périodique (Anglais)
Date de publication 2012
Nom du périodique Animal Cognition
Volume 15
Numéro 1
Pages 83-96