Vertebrate Predation and Food-Sharing in Cebus and Pan


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Abstract

Capuchins and chimpanzees are the only nonhuman primates apart from baboons known to prey systematically upon relatively large vertebrates. Vertebrate predation is common and well documented in Pan troglodytes, rare in Pan paniscus, and commonly reported but infrequently studied in Cebus. Food-sharing is common in both Pan species but rarely reported for wild capuchins. I present data on vertebrate predation and food-sharing by white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) from ongoing field studies at Santa Rosa National Park, Costa Rica. We have observed 106 successful predation events resulting in the capture of 156 prey items during 2929 observation hr (5.35 prey per 100 hr). Squirrels and nestling coatis comprised half of the prey taken; the remainder were mainly nestling birds and eggs. Adult males took 52% of all prey and 67% of squirrels. Squirrels are actively hunted and about 65% of them are adults. I estimated that the average capuchin group kills 43–50 squirrels annually, mostly during the dry season. Capuchins hunt squirrels in groups 81% of the time, and 17% of hunts are successful. There is no evidence for cooperative hunting, but occasional collaboration is suggested. Rates of food-sharing were low (1.7 per 100 hr), and meat was the only food shared between adults. I compare predation and food-sharing in C. capucinus with published data for Pan troglodytes, primarily in Gombe and Taï National Parks. I discuss sex differences, hunting strategies, the relationship between hunting and food-sharing, and various ecological and social factors that may promote vertebrate predation in Pan and Cebus.

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