Diffusion dynamics of socially learned foraging techniques in squirrel monkeys

Nicolas Claidiere, Emily Jane Elizabeth Messer, Andrew Whiten, William John Edward Hoppitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Social network analyses [1-5] and experimental studies of social learning [6-10] have each become important domains of animal behavior research in recent years yet have remained largely separate. Here we bring them together, providing the first demonstration of how social networks may shape the diffusion of socially learned foraging techniques [11]. One technique for opening an artificial fruit was seeded in the dominant male of a group of squirrel monkeys and an alternative technique in the dominant male of a second group. We show that the two techniques spread preferentially in the groups in which they were initially seeded and that this process was influenced by monkeys' association patterns. Eigenvector centrality predicted both the speed with which an individual would first succeed in opening the artificial fruit and the probability that they would acquire the cultural variant seeded in their group. These findings demonstrate a positive role of social networks in determining how a new foraging technique diffuses through a population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1255
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2013


  • Social learning
  • monkeys
  • social networks


Dive into the research topics of 'Diffusion dynamics of socially learned foraging techniques in squirrel monkeys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this