Communication and Behavior in Monkeys – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Communication and Behavior in Monkeys

Anna Cress

Anna Cress

Pronouns: she/her

Research Mentor(s): Thore Bergman, Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Psychology, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 3 (1pm-1:50pm)
Breakout Room: Room 8
Presenter: 4

Event Link


Capuchin Monkeys, common to Central and South America, are considered to be one of the smartest types of new-world monkeys due to their complex vocalizations and social relationships within and across groups. Capuchins have a large repertoire of calls, ranging from peeps to gargles or alarms. Through 5-minute vocal follows with individual Capuchins at the Taboga field site, behaviors are compared and analyzed in terms of the monkey’s activity state, the vertical location from the ground to the canopy, the habitat type from the forest edge to the continuous forest, and the distance to the closest group member. These variables are used in an effort to understand how behaviors change in shared territory compared to in their own core territory. While many researchers have observed these vocalizations and variables in the past, very few have studied how vocal behavior may vary across environments associated with different levels of intergroup encounter and predation risk. More specifically, working to gain a better understanding of differentiating a capuchin’s social knowledge versus ecological knowledge will help us to answer necessary questions in our study. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and the multiple lockdowns, there was very little data collection in the fall of 2020. Beginning in the winter of 2021, the field site is once again active and vocal follows are being recorded as well as data being collected through the Animal Observer app at the field site in Costa Rica. Vocal follows are targeted recordings on an individual in the group where their behaviors are recorded and later analyzed and compared. As the study is on-going a final conclusion is unclear though it is currently predicted that when the risk of predation is high, there will be fewer or quieter vocalizations amongst monkeys due to the likelihood of risk. Furthermore, Capuchins vocalize at lower rates in shared territories when they are on the ground and at the forest edge because they perceive those areas to be riskier.

Authors: Annie Cress, Nicki Guisneuf
Research Method: Data Collection and Analysis

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