Spatial cognition, movement, and use of space in bearded capuchin monkeys
Howard, Allison Marie
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The spatial cognition and movement ecology of an animal cannot be completely understood without knowledge of the landscape context within which the animal lives. This dissertation investigated the influence of landscape features on the spatial cognition, movement, and use of space of bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) ranging in Northeast Brazil. Two key landscape features influencing the use of space of these monkeys were identified: proximity to areas of human influence and proximity to steep ridges. Higher values of green vegetation were also identified as a landscape feature associated with the use of stone tools. The identification of landscape features associated with the presence of bearded capuchin monkeys has implications for conservation efforts for this unique population. Movement of bearded capuchin monkeys was investigated through three movement models which incorporated landscape variables to varying degrees. The minimum resistance path model moved so as to incur the absolute least cumulative resistance for each segment of travel. The landscape perceiving model moved through areas of low resistance by moving in the direction of the travel goal through neighboring pixels of least resistance. A straight line path model was also developed to test the tendency of bearded capuchins to travel linearly. The straight line path model resembled actual travel in its resistance values but not in its linearity, as the monkeys did not move in straight line paths. The minimum resistance and landscape perceiving models had lower cumulative resistance values than actual travel. A novel method of manipulating the monkeys’ travel paths experimentally was also tested in which the monkeys were called to a provisioning site using an auditory cue and their movement patterns were observed. For experimentally manipulated travel goals, the monkeys travel more linearly and incur higher landscape resistance when compared to natural travel paths. Without the consideration of landscape variables, the movement of bearded capuchin monkeys may have been considered inefficient, but their movements appear to be related to the landscape features of the environment in which they move. These results indicate the importance of the consideration of landscape factors for the study of nonhuman primate spatial cognition in natural environments.