Current researchers and their research projects

Immigrant male TJ forms a coalition with juvenile male Kahlo
The following summarizes current research by members of the Lomas Barbudal Monkey Project, which is currently based at UCLA. These researchers are not employees or volunteers of the WCF. The WCF aids the UCLA-based project in finding volunteers and promoting the work of the project to the public.

Coalitions and alliance formation: Susan Perry and her UCLA graduate students Caitlin De Rango and Kotrina Kajokaite are studying capuchin politics, coalitionary psychology and life histories. Coalitions are such an important part of daily life for capuchins, and alliances are necessary for achieving high reproductive success. We are interested in studying how the monkeys communicate their requests for assistance, and how they decide with whom to side in these conflicts. We are very grateful to the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation and the National Geographic Society for funding this project.

Inbreeding avoidance: Irene Godoy (a UCLA graduate student) is conducting her Ph.D. research on the mechanisms by which fathers avoid inbreeding with their reproductive aged daughters and granddaughters, even when they co-reside with them as alpha males. Her research is funded by L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, NSF, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

Female nutrition and life histories: Susan Perry and Juan Carlos Ordoñez Jiménez (a Costa Rican biologist who has worked with the monkey project for 10 years) are monitoring food availability in each group’s home range, to assess habitat quality. They are also collecting nutritional data on all of the staple foods in the capuchin diet. The project already has data (for many years) on the foraging behavior for the monkeys in our population, so having this nutritional content data for the foods eaten will enable us to document nutritional intake for each focal individual and how their feeding strategies change over time. The UCLA Academic Senate is funding this pilot study.

Social learning and food processing: Brendan Barrett (a UC-Davis graduate student) is conducting his field research on the role of social learning in the acquisition of skill in opening panama fruits.  Brendan and Susan are also collaborating in analysis of a long-term data set on the role of social learning in the processing of Sloanea fruits. Brendan’s PhD research is funded by American Society of Primatologists, an NSF graduate fellowship, and the ARCS Foundation Northern California Chapter.
Male migration and female counter-strategies: The funding for this 4-year project (funded by NSF grant 0848360, the Leakey Foundation, and the National Geographic Society) ended in August, and data analysis is underway. Max Planck Institute graduate students Colleen Gault and Franka Schaebs are writing their theses on the hormonal changes associated with major life changes such as migration and changes in dominance rank. Kotrina Kajokaite (UCLA graduate student) is writing her thesis on male life histories.