Factors affecting cashew processing by wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus, Kerr 1792)

Cashew nuts are very nutritious but so well defended by caustic chemicals that very few species eat them. We investigated how wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus) living at Fazenda Boa Vista (FBV; Piaui, Brazil) process cashew nuts (Anacardium spp.) to avoid the caustic chemicals contained in the seed mesocarp. We recorded the behavior of 23 individuals toward fresh (N=1282) and dry (N=477) cashew nuts. Adult capuchins used different sets of behaviors to process nuts: rubbing for fresh nuts and tool use for dry nuts. Moreover, adults succeed to open dry nuts both by using teeth and tools. Age and body mass significantly affected success. Signs of discomfort (e.g., chemical burns, drooling) were rare. Young capuchins do not frequently closely observe adults processing cashew nuts, nor eat bits of nut processed by others. Thus, observing the behavior of skillful group members does not seem important for learning how to process cashew nuts, although being together with group members eating cashews is likely to facilitate interest toward nuts and their inclusion into the diet. These findings differ from those obtained when capuchins crack palm nuts, where observations of others cracking nuts and encounters with the artifacts of cracking produced by others are common and support young individuals' persistent practice at cracking. Cashew nut processing by capuchins in FBV appears to differ from that observed in a conspecific population living 320km apart, where capuchins use tools to open both fresh and dry nuts. Moreover, in the latter population, chemical burns due to cashew caustic compounds appear to be common. The sources of these differences across populations deserve investigation, especially given that social influences on young monkeys learning to open cashew nuts at FBV seem to be nonspecific. Am. J. Primatol. 78:799-815, 2016. (c) 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Visalberghi, Elisabetta
Albani, Alessandro
Ventricelli, Marialba
Izar, Patricia
Schino, Gabriele
Fragazsy, Dorothy
A.R. Liss,, New York , Stati Uniti d'America
American journal of primatology (Print) 78 (2016): 799–815. doi:10.1002/ajp.22545
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Visalberghi, Elisabetta; Albani, Alessandro; Ventricelli, Marialba; Izar, Patricia; Schino, Gabriele; Fragazsy, Dorothy/titolo:Factors affecting cashew processing by wild bearded capuchin monkeys (Sapajus libidinosus, Kerr 1792)
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