Anti-predator responses of a group of black lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysopygus) in reaction to a terrestrial and an aerial predator

Sarah Creasey


Anti-predator training was conducted on a free-ranging group of black lion tamarins at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, in July 2007. The study aimed to investigate the anti-predator behaviours exhibited in response to different predators, and determine if a predatory threat in the morning influenced behaviour later in the day. The tamarins were exposed to three treatments; a terrestrial predator, an aerial predator, and the aerial predator coupled with an adverse tamarin scream. The tamarins gave alarm calls and exhibited piloerection in response to both predators. A stronger reaction was perceived in response to the aerial threat; however this may have been influenced by the lack of previous experience. Vigilance was significantly altered towards the predator and remained changed throughout the day, showing a high state of awareness for all treatments. The results indicated that there was no significant change in behaviour over the day. This is a positive outcome, as it shows that the captive-bred tamarins are able to recover quickly from a predator threat. In the wild this would be essential, due to the high costs involved with anti-predator behaviour.

Keywords: anti-predator behaviour; anti-predator training; black lion tamarin; Leontopithecus chrysopygus.

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