Switching spatial scale reveals dominance-dependent social foraging tactics in a wild primate
Lee, A., & Cowlishaw, G. (2017). Switching spatial scale reveals dominance-dependent social foraging tactics in a wild primate. PeerJ, 5, e3462. doi:10.7717/peerj.3462
DisciplineEkologia ja evoluutiobiologia
© 2017 Lee and Cowlishaw. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons license.
When foraging in a social group, individuals are faced with the choice of sampling their environment directly or exploiting the discoveries of others. The evolutionary dynamics of this trade-off have been explored mathematically through the producer-scrounger game, which has highlighted socially exploitative behaviours as a major potential cost of group living. However, our understanding of the tight interplay that can exist between social dominance and scrounging behaviour is limited. To date, only two theoretical studies have explored this relationship systematically, demonstrating that because scrounging requires joining a competitor at a resource, it should become exclusive to high-ranking individuals when resources are monopolisable. In this study, we explore the predictions of this model through observations of the natural social foraging behaviour of a wild population of chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). We collected data through over 800 h of focal follows of 101 adults and juveniles across two troops over two 3-month periods. By recording over 7,900 social foraging decisions at two spatial scales we show that, when resources are large and economically indefensible, the joining behaviour required for scrounging can occur across all social ranks. When, in contrast, dominant individuals can aggressively appropriate a resource, such joining behaviour becomes increasingly difficult to employ with decreasing social rank because adult individuals can only join others lower ranking than themselves. Our study supports theoretical predictions and highlights potentially important individual constraints on the ability of individuals of low social rank to use social information, driven by competition with dominant conspecifics over monopolisable resources. ...