Evidence for a spatial memory of fruiting states of rainforest trees in wild mangabeys
Janmaat, Karline R. L.
Byrne, Richard W.
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We investigated the ranging behaviour of two groups of wild mangabey monkeys (sooty mangabeys, Cercocebus atys atys, and grey-cheeked mangabeys, Lophocebus albigena johnstoni) relative to a number of preselected target trees within their home range. We observed the groups' visiting patterns and speed when they approached within a critical distance of a target tree as a function of the tree's fruiting state. For both groups, the likelihood of coming into sight or actually entering these trees was significantly higher if fruit was available. Target trees with fruit were also approached significantly faster than were trees without fruits. These behavioural differences were unlikely to be the result of auditory, visual or olfactory cues available over long distances, suggesting that monkeys relied on spatial memory to relocate fruit trees and distinguish between trees that had and had not carried fruit in the immediate past. Results further indicated that the monkeys clearly distinguished between different types of fruit-bearing target trees. We suggest that the monkeys used memory of previous feeding experience to assess each tree's differences and were able to anticipate changes in fruit quality. We found no evidence that individuals belonging to a particular age or sex class led the group towards trees with fruit more often than did others. (c) 2006 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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