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Play Behavior Varies with Age, Sex, and Socioecological Context in Wild, Immature Orangutans (Pongo spp.)


Kunz, Julia A; Falkner, Sonja S; Aprilinayati, Fikty; Duvot, Guilhem J; Fröhlich, Marlen; Willems, Erik P; Atmoko, Sri Suci Utami; van Schaik, Carel P; Schuppli, Caroline; van Noordwijk, Maria A (2024). Play Behavior Varies with Age, Sex, and Socioecological Context in Wild, Immature Orangutans (Pongo spp.). International Journal of Primatology:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Play is thought to serve different purposes at different times during ontogeny. The nature and frequency of play are expected to change accordingly over the developmental trajectory and with socio-ecological context. Orangutans offer the opportunity to disentangle the ontogenetic trajectories of solitary and social play with their extended immature phase, and socio-ecological variation among populations and species. We evaluated the frequency of play in 39 immature individuals across two populations (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii, at Tuanan, Borneo, and P. abelii at Suaq, Sumatra), age (0–11 years), sex, and social context, using more than 11 500 h of full-day focal observation data. We found independent age trajectories of different play types, with solitary object and solitary locomotor peaking before social play. Social play partners changed during ontogeny, and male immatures were more likely to engage in non-mother social play than females. Overall, social play was more frequent at Suaq than Tuanan, linked to the more frequent availability of partners. Furthermore, per time in association with conspecifics, Tuanan immatures were as likely to engage in social play as their peers at Suaq, suggesting similar intrinsic motivation. Increasing fruit availability correlated with both longer associations and increased social play frequency in the less sociable population of Tuanan, but not at Suaq. Our findings on orangutans support evidence from other species that different play types follow different developmental trajectories, vary with sex, social opportunities, and ecological context. Although drawing functional inferences is challenging, the distinct developmental trajectories reflecting adult sociability and behavioral repertoires may indicate that play serves several, non-mutually exclusive functions during ontogeny.

Abstract

Play is thought to serve different purposes at different times during ontogeny. The nature and frequency of play are expected to change accordingly over the developmental trajectory and with socio-ecological context. Orangutans offer the opportunity to disentangle the ontogenetic trajectories of solitary and social play with their extended immature phase, and socio-ecological variation among populations and species. We evaluated the frequency of play in 39 immature individuals across two populations (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii, at Tuanan, Borneo, and P. abelii at Suaq, Sumatra), age (0–11 years), sex, and social context, using more than 11 500 h of full-day focal observation data. We found independent age trajectories of different play types, with solitary object and solitary locomotor peaking before social play. Social play partners changed during ontogeny, and male immatures were more likely to engage in non-mother social play than females. Overall, social play was more frequent at Suaq than Tuanan, linked to the more frequent availability of partners. Furthermore, per time in association with conspecifics, Tuanan immatures were as likely to engage in social play as their peers at Suaq, suggesting similar intrinsic motivation. Increasing fruit availability correlated with both longer associations and increased social play frequency in the less sociable population of Tuanan, but not at Suaq. Our findings on orangutans support evidence from other species that different play types follow different developmental trajectories, vary with sex, social opportunities, and ecological context. Although drawing functional inferences is challenging, the distinct developmental trajectories reflecting adult sociability and behavioral repertoires may indicate that play serves several, non-mutually exclusive functions during ontogeny.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Evolutionary Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:20 January 2024
Deposited On:01 Mar 2024 13:31
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 03:38
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0164-0291
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-023-00414-2
Project Information:
  • : FunderA.H. Schultz-Stiftung zur Förderung Primatologischer Forschung
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  • : FunderJanggen-Pöhn-Stiftung
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  • : FunderUniversität Zürich
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  • : FunderStiftung für Mensch und Tier Freiburg i. Br.
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  • : FunderLeakey Foundation
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  • : FunderSUAQ Foundation
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  • : FunderVolkswagen Foundation
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  • : FunderUniversity of Zurich
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  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)