Genes, social transmission, but not maternal effects influence responses of wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) to novel-object and novel-food tests

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Using long-term maternal pedigree data, microsatellite analysis, and behavioral tests, we examined whether personality differences in wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) are associated with additive genetic effects, maternal influences, or belonging to a particular social group. Behaviors elicited by novel-object tests were defined by a component related to caution around novel-objects (Ob-PC1) and behaviors elicited by novel food-tests were defined by correlated components related to consummatory responses (Fo-PC1) and caution around novel foods (Fo-PC2). The repeatability of Ob-PC1 was modest and not significant; the repeatabilities of Fo-PC1 and Fo-PC2 were moderate and significant. Linear mixed effects models found that sex, age, sex × age, provisioning, trial number, date, time of day, season, and distance to the closest monkey were not related to personality. Linear mixed effects models of females older than 2 years found that high rank was associated with greater caution around novel objects. Linear models were used to determine whether sex, age, group membership, maternal kinship, or relatedness had independent effects on the personality similarity of dyads. These analyses found that pairs of macaques that lived in the same group were less similar in their caution around novel objects, more closely related pairs of macaques were more similar in their tendency to eat novel food, and that pairs of macaques in the same group were more similar in how cautious they were around novel foods. Together, these findings suggest that personality in this population of wild monkeys was driven by rank, genetic effects, and group effects, the latter possibly including the need to exploit different niches in the environment.


  • Primates

    Primates 58(1), 103-113, 2017-01

    Springer Nature


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