Barnett, A. A., Oliveira, T., Soares da Silva, R. F., de Albuquerque Teixeira, S., Todd, L. M., & Boyle, S. A. (2018). Honest error, precaution or alertness advertisement? Reactions to vertebrate pseudopredators in red-nosed cuxiús (Chiropotes albinasus), a high-canopy neotropical primate. Ethology, 124(3), 177–187.
Predation on primates is considered to have far-reaching effects on the foraging and social ecology of a species. Primate species display a variety of responses to predator proximity and attack, ranging from active physical defense and mobbing, to flight and concealment. Warning calls are often given, and potentially threatening animals may be tracked, either actively or with head movements. Such behaviors take time that could be used for other activities. Accordingly, there should be strong selection to respond only to those species that represent a genuine threat. However, primates give defense-based behaviors to non-predator species. We tested the hypotheses that responses to pseudopredators are (i) precautionary calls made by individuals following the Dinner/Life Principle, or (ii) represent the ontogeny of species recognition. Of the species that ellicted a response from the cuxiús, 80% resembled a primate predator; 95% of the encounters that elicited a response from the cuxiús occurred when the distance between the pseudopredator and cuxiús was ≤20 m. In regard to the frequency of responses to pseudopredators, we found no difference between adults and juveniles (47.6% and 52.4%, respectively) and no differences between adult males and adult females (60% and 40% of the responses, respectively). However, reactions to pseudopredators were of shorter duration ((Formula presented.) ± standard error (SE): 42.2 ± 15.9 s) than were reactions to actual predator species ((Formula presented.) ± SE: 1,024.3 ± 329.1 s). There were only three instances where alarm calls were made to species that did not resemble predators, and 66.7% (N = 2) were made by adult cuxiús and only 33.3% (N = 1) were made by a juvenile cuxiú. Therefore, we found partial support for the Dinner/Life Principle hypothesis, but no support for the ontogeny hypothesis. Examination of such responses to pseudopredators in other primate and non-primate species may help understand the evolution of such behaviors.