Evidence for social learning in wild lemurs (Lemur catta)

Rachel L. Kendal*, Deborah M. Custance, Jeremy R. Kendal, Gillian Vale, Tara S. Stoinski, Nirina Lalaina Rakotomalala, Hantanirina Rasamimanana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Interest in social learning has been fueled by claims of culture in wild animals. These remain controversial because alternative explanations to social learning, such as asocial learning or ecological differences, remain difficult to refute. Compared with laboratory-based research, the study of social learning in natural contexts is in its infancy. Here, for the first time, we apply two new statistical methods, option-bias analysis and network-based diffusion analysis, to data from the wild, complemented by standard inferential statistics. Contrary to common thought regarding the cognitive abilities of prosimian primates, our evidence is consistent with social learning within subgroups in the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta), supporting the theory of directed social learning (Coussi-Korbel & Fragaszy, 1995). We also caution that, as the toolbox for capturing social learning in natural contexts grows, care is required in ensuring that the methods employed are appropriate in particular, regarding social dynamics among study subjects. Supplemental materials for this article may be downloaded from http://lb.psychonomic-journals.org/content/supplemental.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-234
Number of pages15
JournalLearning and Behavior
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

Keywords

  • RING-TAILED LEMURS
  • FEMALE DOMINANCE
  • FEEDING PRIORITY
  • CAPUCHIN MONKEYS
  • BERENTY-RESERVE
  • TOOL USE
  • TRANSMISSION
  • CHIMPANZEES
  • BEHAVIOR
  • MADAGASCAR

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