Cross-site differences in foraging behavior of white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus)

Melissa A. Panger, Susan Perry, Lisa Rose, Julie Gros-Louis, Erin Vogel, Katherine C. Mackinnon, Mary Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


Researchers have identified a variety of cross-site differences in the foraging behavior of free-ranging great apes, most notably among chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and more recently orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), that are not due to obvious genetic or ecological differences. These differences are often referred to as "traditions." What is not known is whether this high level of interpopulation variation in behavior is limited to hominoids. In this study, we use long-term data from three Costa Rican field sites that are geographically close and similar ecologically to identify potential foraging traditions in white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus). Foraging traditions are predicted in Cebus because of many behavioral and morphological convergences between this genus and the great apes. The processing techniques used for the same food species were compared across sites, and all differences found were classified as present, habitual, or customary. Proximity data were also analyzed to determine if social learning mechanisms could explain variation in foraging behavior. Of the 61 foods compared, we found that 20 of them are processed differently by capuchins across sites. The differences involve pound, rub, tap, "fulcrum," "leaf-wrap," and "army ant following." For most of the differences with enough data to analyze, the average proximity score of the "matched" dyads (two individuals within a group who shared a "different" processing technique) was statistically higher than the average proximity score of the remaining "unmatched" dyads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-66
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


  • Interpopulation variation
  • New World monkey
  • Raditions
  • Social learning
  • Tool use


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