Title

INFANT AND JUVENILE PLAY PATTERNS IN TIBETAN MACAQUES (Macaca thibetana)

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 201

Start Date

17-5-2012

End Date

17-5-2012

Abstract

Primate play is an important feature of physical and cognitive development. Functions of play include facilitating development of motor and cognitive abilities, providing opportunities to practice adult skills, and learning social roles. Previous research indicates differences among age and sex classes for type and amount of play, suggesting that primates modify play behaviors in relation to adult social roles. Other play research has highlighted preference for a play partner within the same age and sex class, which is also in concordance with the play’s function in learning adult social roles. Tibetan macaques (Macaca thibetana) have been studied in relation to their social hierarchy and sexual behaviors, but there has been no study of juvenile play behavior. We investigated play among Tibetan macaque infants, juvenile females, and juvenile males. We collected three minute focal samples and scored play behaviors using an ethogram. We hypothesized differences would exist in type and amount of play between age and sex classes and that individuals would prefer same age/sex play partners. Results showed that infants spent more time playing (N=39.87%) than did juvenile males (N=16.00%) and females (N=14.73%). There is a trend for partners of the same age class to play. All age and sex classes engaged in a wide variety of sexual play behaviors. Overall, there were differences in the variety of play observed among macaque age and sex classes. We also noted ontogenetic shifts in behaviors as individuals transitioned into adulthood.

Faculty Mentor(s)

R. Steven Wagner

Additional Mentoring Department

Biological Sciences

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May 17th, 3:40 PM May 17th, 4:00 PM

INFANT AND JUVENILE PLAY PATTERNS IN TIBETAN MACAQUES (Macaca thibetana)

SURC 201

Primate play is an important feature of physical and cognitive development. Functions of play include facilitating development of motor and cognitive abilities, providing opportunities to practice adult skills, and learning social roles. Previous research indicates differences among age and sex classes for type and amount of play, suggesting that primates modify play behaviors in relation to adult social roles. Other play research has highlighted preference for a play partner within the same age and sex class, which is also in concordance with the play’s function in learning adult social roles. Tibetan macaques (Macaca thibetana) have been studied in relation to their social hierarchy and sexual behaviors, but there has been no study of juvenile play behavior. We investigated play among Tibetan macaque infants, juvenile females, and juvenile males. We collected three minute focal samples and scored play behaviors using an ethogram. We hypothesized differences would exist in type and amount of play between age and sex classes and that individuals would prefer same age/sex play partners. Results showed that infants spent more time playing (N=39.87%) than did juvenile males (N=16.00%) and females (N=14.73%). There is a trend for partners of the same age class to play. All age and sex classes engaged in a wide variety of sexual play behaviors. Overall, there were differences in the variety of play observed among macaque age and sex classes. We also noted ontogenetic shifts in behaviors as individuals transitioned into adulthood.