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Response to novel objects and foraging tasks by common marmoset (Callithrix Jacchus) female Pairs

By Bonaventura Majolo, Hannah M. Buchanan-Smith and Judith Bell

Abstract

Many studies have shown that environmental enrichment can significantly improve the psychological well-being of captive primates, increasing the occurrence of explorative behavior and thus reducing boredom. The response of primates to enrichment devices may be affected by many factors such as species, sex, age, personality and social context. Environmental enrichment is particularly important for social primates living in unnatural social groupings (i.e. same-sex pairs or singly housed animals), who have very few, or no, benefits from the presence of social companions in addition to all the problems related to captivity (e.g. increased inactivity). This study analyses the effects of enrichment devices (i.e. novel objects and foraging tasks) on the behavior of common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) female pairs, a species that usually lives in family groups. It aims to determine which aspects of an enrichment device are more likely to elicit explorative behaviors, and how aggressive and stress-related behaviors are affected by its presence. Overall, the marmosets explored foraging tasks significantly longer than novel objects. The type of object, which varied in size, shape and aural responsiveness (i.e. they made a noise when the monkey touched them), did not affect the response of the monkeys, but they explored objects that were placed higher in the enclosure more than those placed lower down.Younger monkeys were more attracted to the enrichment devices than the older ones. Finally, stress-related behavior (i.e. scratching) significantly decreased when the monkeys were presented with the objects; aggressive behavior as unaffected. This study supports the importance of environmental enrichment for captive primates and shows that in marmosets its effectiveness strongly depends upon the height of the device in the enclosure and the presence of hidden food. The findings can be explained ifone considers the foraging behavior of wild common marmosets. Broader applications for the research findings are suggested in relation to enrichment

Topics: C800 Psychology
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1038/laban0303-32
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:2791

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