Spatial Orientation and Movement of Capuchin Monkeys

By Allison Howard

This research investigates the spatial orientation mechanisms of bearded capuchin monkeys (Cebus (Sapajus) libidinosus) in northeastern Brazil, examining the hypothetical mental representations of space known as Euclidean and Topological Maps.

This work, led by Allison Howard, explores the influence of environmental features on the movement choices of these monkeys, extending beyond the traditional measures of path linearity and path velocity as indicators of spatial knowledge. This work implements remote sensing techniques and geospatial analyses of capuchin routes, including:

  • Spectral Unmixing Analysis of the area around the monkeys’ home range
  • Maximum Entropy Modeling of capuchin micro-habitat preference based on topographic features and fraction images from spectral unmixing analysis
  • Least Cost Path Analysis of capuchin movement patterns
  • Change Point Analysis of capuchin movement patterns
  • Random Walk Analysis of capuchin movement patterns
Maximum Entropy

Geographic distribution of a Maximum Entropy model of bearded capuchin monkey movement. Warmer colors represent habitat predicted by the model to be suitable for capuchin movement while cooler colors represent lower probabilities of habitat suitable for capuchin movement.

Investigating the navigation mechanisms of nonhuman primates improves our understanding of their spatial cognition and intelligence while also having the potential to inform efforts to conserve these species and their habitats.