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Individual differences in cognitive abilities and task performance in wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus)

Martina, Claudia; (2019) Individual differences in cognitive abilities and task performance in wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Animal species vary widely in their cognitive abilities. However, relatively few studies, particularly in wild conditions, have assessed cognitive differences between individuals within a species, even when such differences may impact individual fitness. In this thesis, I investigate variation in the cognitive abilities and task performance of individuals belonging to two troops of wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) in Namibia. I conducted three field experiments to assess individual variation in associative learning abilities, using an operant conditioning task, an extractive foraging task and a second-order conditioning task (Chapters 4-6). I then used these same tasks to explore individual differences in both task participation and the use of different foraging techniques (Chapters 7-8). In each chapter I also sought to test evolutionary hypotheses about that variation according to individual phenotype, including age, sex and social rank. I found little evidence that the baboons learnt the intended associations as initially predicted in the three tasks, and likewise little evidence of individual differences in learning ability that could be related to phenotype in the two tasks in which I was able to explore this. However, I did find consistent individual differences in task participation and feeding techniques. Overall, my findings highlight both, the challenges and opportunities of conducting tests in the wild.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Individual differences in cognitive abilities and task performance in wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10071766
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