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Using natural travel paths to infer and compare primate cognition in the wild

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Karline R.L. Janmaat, Miguel de Guinea, Julien Collet, Richard W. Byrne, Benjamin Robira, Emiel van Loon, Haneul Jang, Dora Biro, Gabriel Ramos-Fernández, Cody Ross, Andrea Presotto, Matthias Allritz, Shauhin Alavi, Sarie Van Belle

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Within comparative psychology, the evolution of animal cognition is typically studied either by comparing indirect measures of cognitive abilities (e.g., relative brain size) across many species or by conducting batteries of decision-making experiments among (typically) a few captive species. Here, we propose a third, complementary approach: inferring and comparing cognitive abilities through observational field records of natural information gradients and the associated variation in decision-making outcomes, using the ranging behavior of wild animals. To demonstrate the feasibility of our proposal, we present the results of a global survey assessing the availability of long-term ranging data sets from wild primates and the willingness of primatologists to share such data. We explore three ways in which such ranging data, with or without the associated behavioral and ecological data often collected by primatologists, might be used to infer and compare spatial cognition. Finally, we suggest how ecological complexity may be best incorporated into comparative analyses.


Original languageEnglish
Article number102343
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Early online date15 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2021

    Research areas

  • Biological Sciences, Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience

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