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The effects of sociability on exploratory tendency and innovation repertoires in wild Sumatran and Bornean orangutans


Schuppli, Caroline; Forss, Sofia; Meulman, Ellen; Atmoko, Suci Utami; van Noordwijk, Maria; van Schaik, Carel (2017). The effects of sociability on exploratory tendency and innovation repertoires in wild Sumatran and Bornean orangutans. Scientific Reports, 7:15464.

Abstract

It has been hypothesized that opportunities for social learning affect the size and complexity of the adult skill set of birds and mammals, their learning ability, and thus ultimately also their innovation frequency. To test these predictions we compared rates of social learning, rates of independent exploration (independent learning) and innovation repertoires between individuals of a highly sociable population of Pongo abelii at Suaq Balimbing and a less sociable population of Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii at Tuanan. Suaq immatures showed significantly higher rates of peering, even after controlling for differences in association time and diet complexity, implying that they make disproportionally greater use of their increased opportunities for social learning. As predicted, we found that immatures and adults at Suaq also showed significantly higher rates of exploratory behaviour. The difference between the individuals of the two popuations remained when controlling for association time, suggesting persistent developmental effects, intrinsic differences, or both. Accordingly, Suaq animals had a larger set of learned skills and a higher mean dietary complexity. Our findings show that population level sociability, individual rates of exploration and population-wide repertoires of innovations are positively linked, as predicted.

Abstract

It has been hypothesized that opportunities for social learning affect the size and complexity of the adult skill set of birds and mammals, their learning ability, and thus ultimately also their innovation frequency. To test these predictions we compared rates of social learning, rates of independent exploration (independent learning) and innovation repertoires between individuals of a highly sociable population of Pongo abelii at Suaq Balimbing and a less sociable population of Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii at Tuanan. Suaq immatures showed significantly higher rates of peering, even after controlling for differences in association time and diet complexity, implying that they make disproportionally greater use of their increased opportunities for social learning. As predicted, we found that immatures and adults at Suaq also showed significantly higher rates of exploratory behaviour. The difference between the individuals of the two popuations remained when controlling for association time, suggesting persistent developmental effects, intrinsic differences, or both. Accordingly, Suaq animals had a larger set of learned skills and a higher mean dietary complexity. Our findings show that population level sociability, individual rates of exploration and population-wide repertoires of innovations are positively linked, as predicted.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:02 Feb 2018 10:52
Last Modified:19 Feb 2018 10:43
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-15640-x

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