The Impact of Moving to a Novel Environment on Social Networks, Activity and Wellbeing in Two New World Primates



Dufour V, Sueur C, Whiten A & Buchanan-Smith HM (2011) The Impact of Moving to a Novel Environment on Social Networks, Activity and Wellbeing in Two New World Primates. American Journal of Primatology, 73 (8), pp. 802-811.

Among the stressors that can affect animal welfare in zoos, the immediate effect of relocation to a novel environment is one that has received little attention in the literature. Here, we compare the social network, daily activity and the expression of stress-related behavior in capuchins (Cebus apella) and squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) before and just after they were relocated to a new enriched enclosure. Results showed similar immediate responses to the move in the two species. Both showed a substantial increase in the time spent resting and spent more time in the highest and "safest" part of their enclosure after relocation. Both capuchins and squirrel monkeys spent significantly more time in close proximity to other group members after relocation, compared to before. In squirrel monkeys, the structure of the social network, which was initially correlated to affiliation, was no longer so after the move. In capuchins, the network analysis showed that individuals regrouped by age, with the youngsters who were potentially more affected by stress being in the center of the network. Social network analysis helped to achieve a more complete picture of how individuals were affected by relocation. We suggest that this type of analysis should be used alongside traditional methods of observation and analysis to encompass the most complex aspects of animal behavior in times of stress and to improve welfare.

relocation; welfare; capuchin; Cebus; squirrel monkey; Saimiri

American Journal of Primatology: Volume 73, Issue 8

Publication date31/08/2011
Publication date online04/03/2011

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Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith
Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith

Professor, Psychology