Barbara Tiddi, PhD
German Primate Center

Approved:  December 2011
Grant Amount:  $18,155


Original Abstract

The present project focuses on aspects of female mating strategies in a species which has been described as exhibiting "female choice". In particular, this research investigates whether female tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella nigritus) adopt specific mating strategies to solve potential conflicts with both males and other females. In examining conflicts with males, the study asks: do capuchin females convey behavioral and acoustic sexual signals via graded-systems?; do females adopt strategies to confuse paternity? Considering conflicts with other females, the study focuses on the following questions: do females compete directly and indirectly  to mate with the alpha male? Do females compete indirectly by engaging in non-conceptive mating?. Tufted capuchin females show at least two features that make them an ideal system from which to examine human sexual behavior from a comparative perspective. First, capuchin females, like human females, solicit their mates mainly through behavioral and vocal cues. Second, capuchin females are extremely active in soliciting males, contrasting with traditional portrayals of females as passive partners. Likewise, the production of effective mate-attracting behaviors has been proposed to be a prevalent component female mating strategies of intrasexual mate competition in humans. Therefore, studies examining mating strategies in a primate species with similar patterns of sexual behaviours and sexual signaling will provide a better model for understanding sexual signaling and mating strategies among humans. The study will be conducted on three wild groups of tufted capuchin monkeys over two mating seasons in Iguaz˙ National Park, Argentina. Factors influencing female mating strategies will be examined by integrating behavioral observations on mating patterns and sexual behaviors with analyses of reproductive hormonal profiles and bio-acoustic analysis of proceptivity calls.

Posted
AuthorH Gregory

Michelle Kline, PhD Candidate
University of California, Los Angeles 

Approved:  May 2011
Grant Amount:  $13,445


Original Abstract

The objective of this research is to test predictions of the hypothesis that cumulative cultural evolution is integral to human adaptation, and that humans possess unique social learning capacities that have coevolved with culture. This research is theoretically important to cultural evolutionary theory because these data will constitute the most extensive existing data set on cultural transmission outside the laboratory. This pursuit matters for the study of human origins, because culture is a major source of human adaptability, and because interpreting the early hominin archaeological record accurately requires empirically verified theory about how cultural transmission creates patterns of cultural variation.

This project has four aims: (1) test whether subtle teaching is important to social learning in a small-scale society; (2) measure within-group variation in knowledge relevant to adaptive skills; (3) test whether theorized learning biases generate adaptive behavior outside the laboratory; and (4) measure patterns of social interaction to infer the geometry of cultural information networks.

The work will take place in villages on Yasawa Island, Fiji. Each village is about 100 people, who subsist mainly on fishing and horticulture. Political units are composed of interrelated clans, a council of elders, and a hereditary chief. There are no local markets, broadcast television, automobiles, or public utilities here. Since face-to-face societies like this one are where most of the world's population lives, and are more similar to the environments to which the human mind has evolved, this is an ideal setting for this study. The researcher will collect data using mixed methodology, including focal follows, structured interviews, and video-recorded observation and video-assisted interviews. She will also conduct collect physiological health measures.

 




Posted
AuthorH Gregory