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Journal Article

The effects of sociability on exploratory tendency and innovation repertoires in wild Sumatran and Bornean orangutans

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Schuppli, C., Forss, S., Meulman, E., Atmoko, S. U., van Noordwijk, M., & van Schaik, C. (2017). The effects of sociability on exploratory tendency and innovation repertoires in wild Sumatran and Bornean orangutans. Scientific Reports, 7: 15464. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-15640-x.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-61E7-7
It has been hypothesized that opportunities for social learning affect the size and complexity of the adult skill set of birds and mammals, their learning ability, and thus ultimately also their innovation frequency. To test these predictions we compared rates of social learning, rates of independent exploration (independent learning) and innovation repertoires between individuals of a highly sociable population of Pongo abelii at Suaq Balimbing and a less sociable population of Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii at Tuanan. Suaq immatures showed significantly higher rates of peering, even after controlling for differences in association time and diet complexity, implying that they make disproportionally greater use of their increased opportunities for social learning. As predicted, we found that immatures and adults at Suaq also showed significantly higher rates of exploratory behaviour. The difference between the individuals of the two popuations remained when controlling for association time, suggesting persistent developmental effects, intrinsic differences, or both. Accordingly, Suaq animals had a larger set of learned skills and a higher mean dietary complexity. Our findings show that population level sociability, individual rates of exploration and population-wide repertoires of innovations are positively linked, as predicted.