CAPUCHIN MONKEYS- Predators

What if eating dinner meant facing the Jaguar that we’re listening to right now? Well, this month is dry season in the tropical forests of Venezuela, and for the Capuchin Monkeys who live there, getting enough to eat is indeed a dangerous proposition. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Lynne Miller is an Principal Investigator with the Earthwatch Institute.

“A ten pound monkey up in the tree doesn’t have to worry about a two hundred pound jaguar down on the ground. But if they’re going to come down to the ground to feed or to drink water during the dry season, that definitely puts them at risk.”

Capuchins are social animals, living in groups of between ten and fifty. The larger the group, the safer the monkeys feel on the ground and, consequently, the better they get fed.

“Well the small groups are so nervous that they don’t even bother to come to the ground. It becomes a choice of eat or be eaten and they would rather forego eating to forego being eaten. So they stay up in the trees where they’re safer. It seems as if larger groups of animals at least perceive that they’re at lower risk of predation. Now maybe they think if a predator came along, they could chase it away or since there are so many of them, somebody would spot that predator very rapidly and they could escape it. But for whatever reason large group monkeys don’t seem to be so concerned about coming down to the ground and so they come down, they therefore have access to these resources. They eat the fruits, they eat the snails. So they make it through the dry season by putting themselves at a little risk of predation but it means that they do have access to food.”

So why don’t all Capuchins live together in large groups? Well, no one, except for the monkeys, knows for sure. One explanation might be that the dominant females in the groups simply don’t allow newcomers to join in.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

CAPUCHIN MONKEYS- Predators

When eating dinner means facing a jaguar on the ground, some monkeys find it's safer to stay hungry in the trees.
Air Date:02/11/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

What if eating dinner meant facing the Jaguar that we're listening to right now? Well, this month is dry season in the tropical forests of Venezuela, and for the Capuchin Monkeys who live there, getting enough to eat is indeed a dangerous proposition. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

Lynne Miller is an Principal Investigator with the Earthwatch Institute.

"A ten pound monkey up in the tree doesn't have to worry about a two hundred pound jaguar down on the ground. But if they're going to come down to the ground to feed or to drink water during the dry season, that definitely puts them at risk."

Capuchins are social animals, living in groups of between ten and fifty. The larger the group, the safer the monkeys feel on the ground and, consequently, the better they get fed.

"Well the small groups are so nervous that they don't even bother to come to the ground. It becomes a choice of eat or be eaten and they would rather forego eating to forego being eaten. So they stay up in the trees where they're safer. It seems as if larger groups of animals at least perceive that they're at lower risk of predation. Now maybe they think if a predator came along, they could chase it away or since there are so many of them, somebody would spot that predator very rapidly and they could escape it. But for whatever reason large group monkeys don't seem to be so concerned about coming down to the ground and so they come down, they therefore have access to these resources. They eat the fruits, they eat the snails. So they make it through the dry season by putting themselves at a little risk of predation but it means that they do have access to food."

So why don't all Capuchins live together in large groups? Well, no one, except for the monkeys, knows for sure. One explanation might be that the dominant females in the groups simply don't allow newcomers to join in.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for this series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.