Helping in marmosets – new study

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Common Marmoset, Five Sisters Zoo

A new study by Brugger et al (2018), titled, “Reverse audience effects on helping in cooperatively breeding marmoset monkeys” and published in Biology Letters, shows that marmosets will help immature individuals more if no one is watching, reflecting what the authors conclude is “a genuine concern for the immatures’ wellbeing”. Here is the full paper abstract:

“Cooperatively breeding common marmosets show substantial variation in the amount of help they provide. Pay-to-stay and social prestige models of helping attribute this variation to audience effects, i.e. that individuals help more if group members can witness their interactions with immatures, whereas models of kin selection, group augmentation or those stressing the need to gain parenting experience do not predict any audience effects. We quantified the readiness of adult marmosets to share food in the presence or absence of other group members. Contrary to both predictions, we found a reverse audience effect on food-sharing behaviour: marmosets would systematically share more food with immatures when no audience was present. Thus, helping in common marmosets, at least in related family groups, does not support the pay-to-stay or the social prestige model, and helpers do not take advantage of the opportunity to engage in reputation management. Rather, the results appear to reflect a genuine concern for the immatures’ well-being, which seems particularly strong when solely responsible for the immatures.”

Telling Portraits of Primates

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, determined the future passion of well-known wildlife photographer Anup Shah.  Though he studied and taught in England and has a home in Wiltshire, UK, Shah has spent a significant amount of time in east Africa since 1999, capturing intimate moments in the lives of the animals in their native environment – often focusing on primates.  Shah’s primarily black and white photographs are vivid accounts of the animals’ daily lives.  Positioning his cameras on the ground enables him to record special views of his subjects.  Collaborating with fellow wildlife photographer Fiona Rogers, Shah has also focused on various Asian primates such as Japanese snow monkey.  Other primate subjects include baboons, colobus monkeys, geladas, vervet monkeys, mandrills, macaques, lemurs and sifakas, to name a few.  In Tales from Gombe, Shah and Rogers provide a singular record of marked chimpanzee personalities.  From his long- term  studies of animals, Shah believes that beyond family units and survival, there is a true depth to an animal’s  understanding or consciousness.


See:  Tales from Gombe, 2014.

The Mara, A. Shah, London:  Natural History Museum, 2016.

African Odyssey, A. Shah, 2007.