Social factors determine cooperation in marmosets
We investigated which factors determine cooperative behaviour of common marmosets, Callithrix jacchus, in an instrumental task. During the approach phase each of eight individuals of a family group learned in isolation to pull a handle moving a bowl with attractive food towards its reach. In the following two experimental phases we used 16 dyads. In a dyadic training phase we assessed whether the partners were willing to manipulate the apparatus and to share food. In the subsequent cooperation test we examined whether they were willing to cooperate at a slightly modified apparatus whose solution required one individual (the producer) to pull the handle and the other (the scrounger) to grasp the bowl. Although all individuals were willing to cooperate with at least one partner, only half of the dyads solved the task in the cooperation phase. Examination of the factors that correlated with success in this phase revealed that primarily those dyads cooperated in which the dominant subject took the role of the scrounger and the subordinate took the role of the producer. However, in these successful dyads the dominant animal did not force the subordinate partner to pull the handle. Rather, the partners of cooperative dyads shared the reward and pulled equally often in both the dyadic training and the cooperation test. Thus, cooperation of marmosets in an instrumental task seems to depend on a specific distribution of roles and the tolerance of higher-ranking individuals.Copyright 2002 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.