Behavioural diversity of bonobo prey preference as a potential cultural trait


Liran Samuni, Franziska Wegdell, and Martin Surbeck. 2020. “Behavioural diversity of bonobo prey preference as a potential cultural trait.” Edited by Detlef Weigel, Erica Van de Waal, and Erica Van de Waal. eLife, 9, Pp. e59191.


The importance of cultural processes to behavioural diversity in our closest living relatives is central to revealing the evolutionary origins of human culture. However, the bonobo is often overlooked as a candidate model. Further, a prominent critique to many examples of proposed animal cultures is premature exclusion of environmental confounds known to shape behavioural phenotypes. We addressed these gaps by investigating variation in prey preference between neighbouring bonobo groups that associate and overlap space use. We find group preference for duiker or anomalure hunting otherwise unexplained by variation in spatial usage, seasonality, or hunting party size, composition, and cohesion. Our findings demonstrate that group-specific behaviours emerge independently of the local ecology, indicating that hunting techniques in bonobos may be culturally transmitted. The tolerant intergroup relations of bonobos offer an ideal context to explore drivers of behavioural phenotypes, the essential investigations for phylogenetic constructs of the evolutionary origins of culture.