Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Long-term memory helps chimpanzees in their search for food

23.10.2013
Searching for bountiful fruit crops in the rain forest, chimpanzees remember past feeding experiences

Where do you go when the fruits in your favourite food tree are gone and you don’t know which other tree has produced new fruit yet?


Searching for supper: an adult female chimpanzee inspects a food tree.

© MPI f. Evolutionary Anthropology/K. Janmaat

An international team of researchers, led by Karline Janmaat from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, studied whether chimpanzees aim their travel to particular rainforest trees to check for fruit and how they increase their chances of discovering bountiful fruit crops.

The scientists found that chimpanzees use long-term memory to remember the size and location of fruit trees and feeding experiences from previous seasons using a memory window which can be two months to three years ago.

For their study, the researchers recorded the behaviour of five chimpanzee females for continuous periods of four to eight weeks, totalling 275 complete days, throughout multiple fruiting seasons in the Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. They found that chimpanzees fed on significantly larger trees than other reproductively mature trees of the same species, especially if their fruits emitted an obvious smell. Interestingly, trees that were merely checked for edible fruit, but where monitoring could not have been triggered by smell, or the sound of fallen fruit, because the trees did not carry fruit, were also larger.

The researchers found that chimpanzees checked most trees along the way during travel, but 13% were approached in a goal-directed manner. These targeted approaches were unlikely initiated by visual cues and occurred more often when females foraged alone and when trees were large as opposed to small. The results suggested that their monitoring was guided by a long-term “what-where” memory of the location of large potential food trees. For their results, researchers analysed which of nearly 16000 potential food trees with different crown sizes were actually approached by the chimpanzees.

Observations on one female, followed intensively over three consecutive summers, suggested that she was able to remember feeding experiences across fruiting seasons. Long-term phenological data on individual trees indicated that the interval between successive fruiting seasons, and hence the minimal “memory window” of chimpanzees required for effective monitoring activities, could vary from two months to three years.

“The present study on chimpanzees is the first to show that our close relatives use long-term memory during their search for newly produced tropical fruit, and remember feeding experiences long after trees have been emptied”, says Karline Janmaat of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

“For a long time people claimed that animals, contrary to humans, cannot remember the past. This study helps us to understand why chimpanzees and other primates should remember events over long periods in time. And guess what? It also shows they do!” says Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Contact

Karline R. L. Janmaat
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Phone: +49 152 15877934
Email: karline_janmaat@­eva.mpg.de
Sandra Jacob
Press and Public Relations
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
Phone: +49 341 3550-122
Fax: +49 341 3550-119
Email: info@­eva.mpg.de
Original publication
Karline R. L. Janmaat, Simone D. Ban, Christophe Boesch
Chimpanzees use long-term spatial memory to monitor large fruit trees and remember feeding experiences across seasons

Animal Behavior, 23 October 2013

Karline R. L. Janmaat | Max-Planck-Institute
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/7581501/chimpanzees-memory-food?filter_order=L&research_topic=

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard

nachricht New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>