Food abundance and distribution have played a central role in the conceptual theory of primate socioecology [Janson, Behaviour 105:53-76, 1988; Isbell, Behavioral Ecology 2:143-155, 1991; Sterck et al., Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 41:291-309, 1997; van Schaik, In: Standen V, Foley RA, editors, Comparative Socioecology. Oxford: Blackwell. p 195-218, 1989]. This theory predicts that agonistic ("contest") competition should occur when food is distributed in discrete, defensible patches; in contrast, when food sources are distributed uniformly or randomly, non-agonistic ("scramble") competition is expected. Primatologists usually measure resource density and patchiness from a botanical perspective, ignoring the biology of the animal being studied. Such an approach may be irrelevant in terms of how animals view the dispersion of resources. Using a novel focal-tree method that measures resource availability on a scale that is both spatially and temporally relevant to the animal under investigation, we take a cost-benefit approach to predict the frequency of food-related agonism in white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) from 11 ecological and social variables. We retained four variables in the regression model: two representing the opportunity for aggression (i.e., feeding bout length and the number of feeding adult females), and two representing opportunity costs (i.e., fruit abundance and the number of potential feeding sites in the focal tree). The results of this study indicate that the amount of food-related aggression in white-faced capuchins can be predicted by variables representing the costs and benefits of contesting a food resource.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Cebus capucinus
- Contest competition
- Focal tree method