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OrangutansGeographic Variation in Behavioral Ecology and Conservation$
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Serge A. Wich, S Suci Utami Atmoko, Tatang Mitra Setia, and Carel P. van Schaik

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199213276

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199213276.001.0001

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Orangutan cultures revisited

Orangutan cultures revisited

Chapter:
(p.299) CHAPTER 21 Orangutan cultures revisited
Source:
Orangutans
Author(s):

Carel P. van Schaik

Marc Ancrenaz

Reniastoeti Djojoasmoro

Cheryl D. Knott

Helen C. Morrogh-Bernard

Nuzuar Odom Kisar

S. Suci Utami Atmoko

Maria A. van Noordwijk

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199213276.003.0021

Recent comparative work has claimed the presence of socially transmitted behavioral innovations, ranging from tool use to sounds produced during nest building, i.e. culture, among wild orangutans. Much independent information is corroborating this interpretation. Here, after discussing the possible sources of error in this geographic approach, the chapter updates the estimate of the orangutan’s cultural repertoire by presenting the most recent table of locally varying (i.e. non-universal) orangutan behaviors found after exhaustive comparisons of records from eight sites with long-term orangutan field studies. There now is a minimum of between 26 and 35 of such cultural variants, depending on how one assesses the risk that some of them may in fact be hidden universals, missed by some observers or performed too rarely to be reliably recorded. There was little evidence for the alternative models explaining the geographic variation as an outcome of broad reaction norms toward variable ecology or demography, or of genetic differences between populations, both indicating an absence of social learning.

Keywords:   social learning, geographic method, innovation, behavioral innovations, tool use, sounds, nest building, wild orangutans, demography, genetic differences

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