Flexibility and persistence of chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) foraging behavior in a captive environment

Am J Primatol. 2012 Jul;74(7):661-8. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22020.


As a result of environmental variability, animals may be confronted with uncertainty surrounding the presence of, or accessibility to, food resources at a given location or time. While individuals can rely on personal experience to manage this variability, the behavior of members of an individual's social group can also provide information regarding the availability or location of a food resource. The purpose of the present study was to measure how captive chimpanzees individually and collectively adjust their foraging strategies at an artificial termite mound, as the availability of resources provided by the mound varied over a number of weeks. As predicted, fishing activity at the mound was related to resource availability. However, chimpanzees continued to fish at unbaited locations on the days and weeks after a location had last contained food. Consistent with previous studies, our findings show that chimpanzees do not completely abandon previously learned habits despite learning individually and/or socially that the habit is no longer effective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Zoo / physiology
  • Appetitive Behavior / physiology
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Isoptera
  • Learning
  • Male
  • Pan troglodytes / physiology*