Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Foundations of cumulative culture in apes: improved foraging efficiency through relinquishing and combining witnessed behaviours in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

DOI

Open Access permissions

Open

Author(s)

Sarah Jayne Davis, Gillian Louise Vale, Steven J. Schapiro, Susan P. Lambeth, Andrew Whiten

School/Research organisations

Abstract

A vital prerequisite for cumulative culture, a phenomenon often asserted to be unique to humans, is the ability to modify behaviour and flexibly switch to more productive or efficient alternatives. Here, we first established an inefficient solution to a foraging task in five captive chimpanzee groups (N = 19). Three groups subsequently witnessed a conspecific using an alternative, more efficient, solution. When participants could successfully forage with their established behaviours, most individuals did not switch to this more efficient technique; however, when their foraging method became substantially less efficient, nine chimpanzees with socially-acquired information (four of whom witnessed additional human demonstrations) relinquished their old behaviour in favour of the more efficient one. Only a single chimpanzee in control groups, who had not witnessed a knowledgeable model, discovered this. Individuals who switched were later able to combine components of their two learned techniques to produce a more efficient solution than their extensively used, original foraging method. These results suggest that, although chimpanzees show a considerable degree of conservatism, they also have an ability to combine independent behaviours to produce efficient compound action sequences; one of the foundational abilities (or candidate mechanisms) for human cumulative culture.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number35953
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2016

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Chimpanzees’ behavioral flexibility, social tolerance and use of tool-composites in a progressively challenging foraging problem

    Harrison, R. A., van Leeuwen, E. & Whiten, A., 19 Feb 2021, In: iScience. 24, 2, 102033.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Why do chimpanzees have diverse behavioral repertoires yet lack more complex cultures? Invention and social information use in a cumulative task

    Vale, G. L., McGuigan, N., Burdett, E., Lambeth, S. P., Lucas, A., Rawlings, B., Schapiro, S. J., Watson, S. K. & Whiten, A., 16 Dec 2020, In: Evolution and Human Behavior. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Does culture shape hunting behavior in bonobos?

    Whiten, A., 1 Sep 2020, In: eLife. 9, 3 p., e62104.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

  4. Refining our understanding of the "elephant in the room"

    Whiten, A., 10 Aug 2020, In: The Behavioral and brain sciences. 43, p. e182

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. A unified account of culture should accommodate animal cultures

    Whiten, A., 28 May 2020, In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 43, e118.

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. An open access dataset for developing automated detectors of Antarctic baleen whale sounds and performance evaluation of two commonly used detectors

    Miller, B. S., The IWC-SORP/SOOS Acoustic Trends Working Group, Balcazar, N., Nieukirk, S., Leroy, E. C., Aulich, M., Shabangu, F. W., Dziak, R. P., Lee, W. S., Hong, J. K. & Harris, D., 12 Jan 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 18 p., 806.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  2. Avoiding gauge ambiguities in cavity quantum electrodynamics

    Rouse, D. M., Lovett, B. W., Gauger, E. M. & Westerberg, N., 19 Feb 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 10 p., 4281.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Bayesian Network Analysis reveals resilience of the jellyfish Aurelia aurita to an Irish Sea regime shift

    Mitchell, E. G., Wallace, M. I., Smith, V. A., Wiesenthal, A. A. & Brierley, A. S., 12 Feb 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 1, 14 p., 3707.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  4. Rats show direct reciprocity when interacting with multiple partners

    Kettler, N., Schweinfurth, M. K. & Taborsky, M., 5 Feb 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 8 p., 3228.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  5. The impact of injury on apparent survival of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area, Maldives

    Harvey-Carroll, J., Stewart, J. D., Carroll, D., Mohamed, B., Shameel, I., Zareer, I. H., Araujo, G. & Rees, R., 13 Jan 2021, In: Scientific Reports. 11, 15 p., 937.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Related by journal

  1. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Matt Carter (Reviewer)

    2020

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Manon Karin Schweinfurth (Member of editorial board)

    1 Aug 2019 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Alan J. Stewart (Member of editorial board)

    Jun 2019 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Matt Carter (Reviewer)

    2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  5. Scientific Reports (Journal)

    Monica Arso Civil (Reviewer)

    Jul 2018 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

ID: 246677673

Top