Cultural diversity among social groups has recently been documented in multiple animal species. Investigations of the origin and spread of diverse behaviour at group level in wild-ranging animals have added valuable information on social learning mechanisms under natural conditions. Behavioural diversity has been especially informative in the case of dispersal, where the transfer of individuals between groups leads to a sudden exposure to unfamiliar behaviour. Little is known, however, about the underlying costs and benefits of cultural transmission in animals and humans alike, as efficiency of cultural variants is often difficult to measure. The chimpanzees, Pan troglodytes, of the Taï National Park in Ivory Coast are known to exhibit a number of cultural differences between social groups, including hammer selection for nut cracking. This provides the unique opportunity to quantify the efficiency of cultural variants. We compared foraging speed and number of hits applied during nut-cracking events between three neighbouring chimpanzee groups. Our results showed significant differences in nut-cracking efficiency, caused by hammer material selection and differences in the applied power of impact per nut. Persistent behavioural coherence within the respective groups implies that immigrants adjust their behaviour to local nut-cracking techniques, even when individual foraging success might be compromised. This suggests that the benefit of belonging to a social group might outweigh the benefits of maximizing individual foraging efficiency. The differences in nut-cracking efficiency between chimpanzee groups add to the ever-growing body of cultural variants in wild chimpanzees and expand our knowledge of the importance of group belonging and conformity in wild chimpanzees.
Animal Behaviour – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 2018
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