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Reports exist of transmission of culture in nonhuman primates.


Biology Articles » Zoology » Ethology » A Pacific Culture among Wild Baboons: Its Emergence and Transmission » Materials and Methods

Materials and Methods
- A Pacific Culture among Wild Baboons: Its Emergence and Transmission

Subjects were a troop, Forest Troop, of olive baboons (Papio anubis) living in the Masai Mara Reserve of Kenya. Olive baboons live in multimale troops of 30–150 animals, with polygamy and considerable male–male aggression. Males change troops at puberty and, as adults, achieve ranks in somewhat fluid dominance hierarchies. In contrast, females remain in their natal troop, inheriting a rank one below that of their mother.

Subjects were observed each summer from 1978–1986, and continuously since 1993. An additional troop, Talek Troop, was observed continuously since 1984. Behavioral data were collected as 20-min focal samples (Altmann 1974). During years of only summer observation (Forest Troop, 1978–1986), 45 samples were collected per subject per season; otherwise, an average of three samples per subject per week were collected throughout the year. Sampling was distributed throughout the day in the same fashion for each individual. During samples, social behavior, feeding, and grooming were recorded. Rankings were derived from approach–avoidance interactions, which included avoidances, supplants, and presentations, in the absence of aggression. Escalated aggression included open-mouthed lunges, chases, and bites. Nearest neighbor scans were done before and after each sample.

Reproductive success was indirectly estimated from frequencies of matings and consortships (maintenance of exclusive mating with and proximity to an estrous female for at least one sample). The value of any given consortship or mating was adjusted by the probability of a fertile mating occurring that day (Hendrickx and Kraemer 1969).

Endocrine data were collected under circumstances allowing for measures of basal steroid hormone levels (Sapolsky and Share 1997). Subjects were darted unaware with anesthetic from a blowgun syringe between 7 A.M. and 10 A.M., and only on days on which they were not sick, injured, in a consortship, or had not recently had a fight. Blood samples were collected within 3 min of anesthetization.


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