Interspecific Interactions Between Cebus capucinus and Other Species: Data from Three Costa Rican Sites

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Capuchins exhibit considerable cross-site variation in domains such as foraging strategy, vocal communication and social interaction. We report interactions between white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus) and other species. We present comparative data for 11 groups from 3 sites in Costa Rica that are ecologically similar and geographically close, thus reducing the likelihood that differences are due solely to genetic or ecological differences. Our aim is to document both the range of variation and common elements across sites and situations. We also consider factors that contribute to the variation or consistency or both, including social learning, local ecology, and temperament. We consider 4 categories of allospecifics: (1) vertebrate prey, (2) potential predators, (3) feeding competitors, and (4) neutral species. Although we cannot rule out local differences in ecology, our data suggest that social learning may account for at least some cross-site differences in behavior toward allospecifics. Our strongest finding is that boldness, aggression and pugnacity are displayed consistently across sites, groups and circumstances, even in interactions with neutral species, which reflects a critical aspect of species-specific temperament in Cebus capucinus that has been evolutionarily developed and reinforced through highly opportunistic foraging, strong predator defense, and active hunting. We suggest directions for future research, particularly in regard to primate temperament as an evolved trait with consequences for fitness.

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