Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-52869
Krützen, M; Willems, E P; van Schaik, C P (2011). Culture and geographic variation in orangutan behavior. Current Biology, 21(21):1808-1812.
PDF - Registered users only
View at publisher
Although geographic variation in an organism's traits is often seen as a consequence of selection on locally adaptive genotypes accompanied by canalized development , developmental plasticity may also play a role [2, 3], especially in behavior . Behavioral plasticity includes both individual learning and social learning of local innovations ("culture"). Cultural plasticity is the undisputed and dominant explanation for geographic variation in human behavior. It has recently also been suggested to hold for various primates and birds , but this proposition has been met with widespread skepticism [6-8]. Here, we analyze parallel long-term studies documenting extensive geographic variation in behavioral ecology, social organization, and putative culture of orangutans  (genus Pongo). We show that genetic differences among orangutan populations explain only very little of the geographic variation in behavior, whereas environmental differences explain much more, highlighting the importance of developmental plasticity. Moreover, variation in putative cultural variants is explained by neither genetic nor environmental differences, corroborating the cultural interpretation. Thus, individual and cultural plasticity provide a plausible pathway toward local adaptation in long-lived organisms such as great apes and formed the evolutionary foundation upon which human culture was built.
174 downloads since deposited on 06 Jan 2012
0 downloads since 12 months
|Item Type:||Journal Article, refereed, original work|
|Communities & Collections:||07 Faculty of Science > Anthropological Institute and Museum|
|Dewey Decimal Classification:||300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology|
|Deposited On:||06 Jan 2012 11:00|
|Last Modified:||17 Jul 2014 20:28|
|Free access at:||Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.|
Users (please log in): suggest update or correction for this item
Repository Staff Only: item control page