Research – May 2016



SAC alumnus Dr Piers Locke has co-edited a new book to be published soon, entitled Conflict, Negotiation and Coexistence: Re-thinking Human-Elephant Relations in South Asia.

Funding Success

Congratulations to Biological Anthropologist Rosie Pitfield who has received a University of Kent, Dora Harvey Memorial Research Scholarship 2016.   The scholarship will support her full-time PhD research.

Dr Brandon Wheeler has received a $1500 research grant from the International Primatological Society for his project on primate communication in Iguazú National Park, Argentina, entitled ‘Can nonhuman primates socially learn the meaning of signals? An experimental test with wild capuchin monkeys’:

“The relatively sophisticated responses of primates to vocalizations are thought to indicate that perceivers attribute meaning to these signals. While meaning attribution seems to result from learned associations between calls and their “referents” (associative learning), social learning may also play a role. Definitive evidence that either type of learning shapes meaning attribution among primates, however, is lacking. The proposed study aims to test whether black capuchins (Sapajus nigritus) can socially learn that novel sounds indicate the presence of a predator, and is a follow-up to a test of whether associative learning plays a role in call perception. Three groups of capuchins were first exposed to three different novel sounds together with a simulated felid predator (Phase 1), and then to the sounds alone (Phase 2) to test if subjects learned the sound-predator association. This proposal seeks funding for Phase 3: to test if individuals absent during Phase 1 but present during Phase 2 socially learned (via the antipredator reactions of their group mates during Phase 2) that their group’s sound indicates the presence of a predator. This will be the first study to provide clear evidence for or against social learning in the realm of signal perception in nonhuman primates.”


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