Elisabeth H M Sterck

Elisabeth H M Sterck
Utrecht University | UU · Department of Biology

About

159
Publications
29,232
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4,374
Citations
Citations since 2017
41 Research Items
1585 Citations
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2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200250

Publications

Publications (159)
Article
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Across various taxa, social tolerance is thought to facilitate cooperation, and many species are treated as having species-specific patterns of social tolerance. Yet studies that assess wild and captive bonobos and chimpanzees result in contrasting findings. By replicating a cornerstone experimental study on tolerance and cooperation in bonobos and...
Article
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Introduction Tail biting is a widespread problem in pig production systems and has a negative impact on both animal welfare and farm income. This explorative study aims to validate how tail biting is related to general behaviors at the individual level and explore whether these behaviors are related to a particular type of tail biting: two-stage, s...
Article
Many non-human primates (NHPs) in captivity become overweight. Individual variation in adiposity may result from differences in behaviour related to energy intake, energy expenditure and dominance rank. Understanding how behaviour contributes to becoming overweight may provide opportunities to improve housing and husbandry of captive group-living N...
Article
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Recently, several diurnal nonhuman anthropoids have been identified displaying varying degrees of nocturnal activity, which can be influenced by activity "masking effects"-external events or conditions that suppress or trigger activity, temporarily altering normal activity patterns. Environmental masking characteristics include nocturnal temperatur...
Article
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In wild primates, infanticide is a risk that is especially prevalent when a new male takes over the alpha position. Insight into risk factors related to infanticide may decrease the incidence of infanticide in captivity during male introductions. We investigated several risk factors of infanticide derived from hypotheses explaining infanticide in t...
Article
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To optimize costs and reproductive success, rhesus macaques in biomedical primate research facilities are often peer-reared. Older, dependent infants are typically removed from their natal group to enhance female reproduction. The minimal husbandry age-norm of infant removal is ten months. These practices deviate from species-specific behavior and...
Article
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Caloric restriction (CR) is an effective method to reduce overweight in captive non-human primates (NHPs). CR has been applied to individually- and pair-housed NHPs, but whether applying CR can be effective and safe in group-housed NHPs has not yet been assessed. This study investigates the effect of mild (20%) CR on adult overweight and biochemica...
Article
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The ‘social complexity hypothesis for communicative complexity’ posits that living in a complex social system requires complex communication skills. Since the complexity of a system can be measured by the amount of uncertainty it produces, we tested this hypothesis by studying species of macaque that differ in social tolerance and uncertainty of so...
Chapter
The Colobines are a group of Afroeurasian monkeys that exhibit extraordinary behavioural and ecological diversity. With long tails and diverse colourations, they are medium-sized primates, mostly arboreal, that are found in many different habitats, from rain forests and mountain forests to mangroves and savannah. Over the last two decades, our unde...
Article
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Foraging decisions of deep-diving cetaceans can provide fundamental insight into food web dynamics of the deep pelagic ocean. Cetacean optimal foraging entails a tight balance between oxygen-conserving dive strategies and access to deep-dwelling prey of sufficient energetic reward. Risso's dolphins ( Grampus griseus ) displayed a thus far unknown d...
Article
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Macaques in captivity are prone to becoming overweight and obese, which may cause several health problems. A diet that mimics the natural diet of macaques may prevent these problems and improve animal welfare. Adjusting captive diets towards a more natural composition may include increasing fiber content and lowering the glycemic index, i.e., reduc...
Article
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Macaques are among the most commonly used non-human primates in biomedical research. They are highly social animals, yet biomedical studies often require group-living animals to be pair-housed in a controlled environment. A change in environment causes only short-term stress in adapting individuals, while non-adapting animals may experience long-te...
Article
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The white-naped mangabey is an endangered and rare zoo species, yet little is known concerning their welfare in captivity. The assessment of welfare should incorporate a net balance of negative and positive welfare behavioural indicators. These behaviours, and thus welfare, can be affected by the way food is presented based on its distribution, clu...
Article
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Emotional bookkeeping is the process by which primates integrate the emotional effects of social interactions to form internal representations of their affiliative relationships. The dynamics and speed of this process, which comprises the formation, maintenance and fading out of affiliative relationships, are not clear. Empirical data suggest that...
Article
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Male introductions into captive primate breeding groups can be risky and unsuccessful. However, they are necessary to prevent inbreeding in naturalistic breeding groups. The procedure used to introduce new individuals may affect the success and influence the risks associated with group introductions. At the Biomedical Primate Research Centre (BPRC)...
Article
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Social learning, which is a mechanism that allows individual to acquire skills from other individuals, occurs in a social context. Therefore, factors that influence social context, like social structure, will impact social learning opportunities. This review explores how features of social structure affect social learning opportunities in primates,...
Article
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In social species, such as many primate species, conspecifics can pose a threat and individuals that are socially vigilant can prevent harassment. Many previous studies have focused on the role of agonistic interactions on social vigilance. In a variety of primate species, individuals are more vigilant for aggressive or dominant group members. In c...
Article
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Social complexity results from engaging in different classes of social behaviour. The presence of different classes of social behaviour is reflected in multidimensional concepts of social asymmetry, found in both human and nonhuman primates. Based on an overview of such concepts, we propose that three classes of social behaviour are involved in hav...
Article
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We tested the social complexity hypothesis which posits that animals living in complex social environments should use complex communication systems. We focused on two components of vocal complexity: diversity (number of categories of calls) and flexibility (degree of gradation between categories of calls). We compared the acoustic structure of voca...
Article
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Many animal species cooperate with conspecifics in various social contexts. While ultimate causes of cooperation are being studied extensively, its proximate causes, particularly endocrine mechanisms, have received comparatively little attention. Here, we present a study investigating the link between the hormone cortisol, cooperation and social bo...
Article
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Primates show various forms of behavioral contagion that are stronger between kin and friends. As a result, behavioral contagion is thought to promote group coordination, social cohesion, and possibly state matching. Aside from contagious yawning, little is known about the contagious effect of other behaviors. Scratching is commonly observed during...
Article
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Access to limited resources may be achieved by dominance as well as by high rates of aggressive and affiliative behaviour. We investigated the relative effectiveness of dominance rank and aggressive and affiliative behaviour in accessing three material and three social resources. Aggressive and affiliative behaviour of 24 female long-tailed macaque...
Article
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Surveys show that zoo-housed great apes occasionally interact with local wildlife. Bonobos and chimpanzees interact aggressively with and sometimes consume wildlife. Gorillas may also interact with local wildlife, but less often in an aggressive way and consumption is rare. Here we report the case of an adolescent female western lowland gorilla (Go...
Article
As well as leading to a loss of biodiversity (i.e. species richness and abundance), human activities also affect ecosystem functioning. Documenting how the suite of ecological roles changes following disturbance provides a complementary source of information for conservation management. To this end, we measured mammal diversity in terms of communit...
Article
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The entrance of new males into non-human primate groups bears high social risk, yet migration is necessary to prevent inbreeding. Males are not always accepted in their new group. In the wild, males may increase the likelihood of successful group entry by choosing a new group based on their own and the group's characteristics. Understanding whether...
Article
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Housing primates in naturalistic groups provides social benefits relative to solitary housing. However, food intake may vary across individuals, possibly resulting in overweight and underweight individuals. Information on relative adiposity (the amount of fat tissue relative to body weight) is needed to monitor overweight and underweight of group-h...
Article
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Dominance in the peer group is important for adolescents. Resource Control Theory posits that both coercive and prosocial (positively assertive) strategies are associated with dominance. Combining Resource Control Theory with Socioanalytic Theory on personality, we hypothesized that inspiring group members would be an additional effective strategy....
Article
Introductions of new males into captive primate groups are often necessary to prevent inbreeding, but also bear high social risks. To minimize these risks, it is crucial to understand the social behaviour accompanying male introductions. While the behaviour of new males is generally understood, information on resident female behaviour during introd...
Article
Full-text available
Contemporary evolutionary theories propose that living in groups drives the selection of enhanced cognitive skills to face competition and facilitate cooperation between individuals. Being able to coordinate both in space and time with others and make strategic decisions are essential skills for cooperating within groups. Social tolerance and an eg...
Poster
Does the social system have an impact on the acoustic production? We compare the tonal vocalizations of Tonkean macaques and rhesus macaques, and found a higher vocal variability and vocal repertoire for the tolerant species (Macaca tonkeana) compared to the intolerant species.
Article
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The heterozygosity status of polymorphic elements of the immune system, such as the Major Histocompatability Complex (MHC), are known to increase the potential to cope with a wider variety of pathogens. Pre- and post-copulatory processes may regulate MHC heterozygosity. In a population where mating occurs among individuals that share identical MHC-...
Article
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In a previous study (Dufour et al., 2015) we reported the unusual characteristics of the drumming performance of a chimpanzee named Barney. His sound production, several sequences of repeated drumming on an upturned plastic barrel, shared features typical for human musical drumming: it was rhythmical, decontextualized, and well controlled by the ch...
Article
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Orang-utans are the largest mainly arboreal animal: wild orang-utans rarely come to the forest floor. In contrast, the locomotion behaviour of captive orang-utans encompasses more time on the ground and they spend less time on locomotion than their wild conspecifics. Moreover, their most frequently employed climbing postures differ from those of wi...
Article
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Captive chimpanzees regularly show abnormal behaviour, including regurgitation and reingestion (R/R). R/R may have several causes, among them a suboptimal diet. For this reason, the effect of a diet change towards a more fibre-rich diet on R/R was studied in the Amersfoort Zoo chimpanzee group comprising 15 individuals. In addition, the relationshi...
Conference Paper
The social intelligence hypothesis suggests that an increase in social complexity drove the evolution of cognitive flexibility in primates. Here we aimed at testing whether social tolerance, used as a proxy of social complexity, might have shaped cognitive skills. Using the Primate Cognition Test Battery, we tested 39 subjects from 4 different maca...
Article
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Objects, such as food, in the environment automatically activate and facilitate affordances, the possibilities for motoric movements in interaction with the objects. Previous research has shown that affordance activation is contingent upon the distance of the object with only proximal objects activating potential movements. However, the effect of a...
Article
The cognitive demands of group living have resulted in the development of social competences in a wide range of animal species. Primates are well aware of the complex social structure within their group and infer information about social status by observing interactions of others. A capacity used to infer this information, Visual Perspective Taking...
Article
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Whether and how primates are able to maintain long-term affiliative relationships is still under debate. Emotional bookkeeping (EB), the partner-specific accumulation of emotional responses to earlier interactions, is a candidate mechanism that does not require high cognitive abilities. EB is difficult to study in real animals, due to the complexit...
Article
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Although tactical deception (TD) may be employed to hide sexual behaviour, there is as yet no firm evidence for it. Hiding may be guided by cognitive mechanisms consistent with either no, low or high level TD, such as exploiting male peripheral positions (no TD), creating distance (TD level 1) or hiding behind screens (TD level 1.5 which involves v...
Article
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Despite the quintessential role that music plays in human societies by enabling us to release and share emotions with others, traces of its evolutionary origins in other species remain scarce. Drumming like humans whilst producing music is practically unheard of in our most closely related species, the great apes. Although beating on tree roots and...
Article
Altruism, benefiting another at a cost to the donor, may be achieved through prosocial behavior. Studies of nonhuman animals typically investigate prosocial behavior with paradigms in which the donor can choose to give a recipient a food item, and the choice does not affect the donor's reward (which is either present or absent). In such tasks, long...
Article
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Primate affiliative relationships are differentiated, individual-specific and often reciprocal. However, the required cognitive abilities are still under debate. Recently, we introduced the EMO-model, in which two emotional dimensions regulate social behaviour: anxiety-FEAR and satisfaction-LIKE. Emotional bookkeeping is modelled by providing each...
Article
Many animal species use a variety of cognitive strategies to locate food resources. One strategy is to make inferences by exclusion, i.e., perceiving the absence of reward as a cue that another location should be investigated. The use of such advanced cognitive strategies may be more prominent in species that are known to frequently solve social ch...
Article
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Agent-based models provide a promising tool to investigate the relationship between individuals' behavior and emerging group-level patterns. An individual's behavior may be regulated by its emotional state and its interaction history with specific individuals. Emotional bookkeeping is a candidate mechanism to keep track of received benefits from sp...
Article
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One of the most apparent discontinuities between non-human primate (primate) call communication and human speech concerns repertoire size. The former is essentially fixed to a limited number of innate calls, while the latter essentially consists of numerous learned components. Consequently, primates are thought to lack laryngeal control required to...
Article
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Many social species maintain differentiated relationships with their group members. These social bonds may reflect short-term interactions satisfying immediate needs. Alternatively, individuals of some species may entertain stable and valuable bonds that last much longer than opportunistic interactions would predict. This claim is supported by rece...
Article
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Arbitrariness is an elementary feature of human language, yet seldom an object of comparative inquiry. While arbitrary signals for the same function are relatively frequent between animal populations across taxa, the same signal with arbitrary functions is rare and it remains unknown whether, in parallel with human speech, it may involve call produ...
Data
Number of subjects per age-sex class and habituation level. (DOCX)
Article
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Communication is important in social species, and may occur with the use of visual, olfactory or auditory signals. However, visual communication may be hampered in species that are arboreal have elaborate facial coloring and live in small groups. The common marmoset fits these criteria and may have limited visual communication. Nonetheless, some (c...
Article
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Visual perspective taking (VPT), an understanding of what others can see, is a prerequisite for theory of mind (ToM). While VPT in apes is proven, its presence in monkeys is much-debated. Several different paradigms have been developed to test its existence, but all face interpretational problems since results can be explained by simpler cognitive...
Article
Sexual competition is highly prevalent within multi-male multi-female primate groups and may lead to copulations in absence of potentially interfering bystanders. Such avoidance of bystanders may result from tactical deception or from simpler mechanisms such as taking advantage of encountered situations without bystanders, operant conditioning or a...
Article
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Examining seasonal mortality patterns can yield insights into the drivers of mortality and thus potential selection pressures acting on individuals in different environments. We compiled adult and juvenile mortality data from nine wild non-human primate taxa to investigate the role of seasonality in patterns of mortality and address the following q...
Article
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In social animals an individual’s fitness depends partly on the quality of relationships with others. Qualitative variation in relationships has been conceptualized according to a three-dimensional structure, consisting of relationship value, compatibility, and security. However, the determinants of the components and their temporal stability are n...
Article
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Yawn contagion is not restricted to humans and has also been reported for several non-human animal species, including chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Contagious yawning may lead to synchronisation of behaviour. However, the function of contagious yawning is relatively understudied. In this study, we investigated the function of contagious yawning by...
Article
Full-text available
Next to predator detection, primate vigilance also serves to keep track of relevant conspecifics. The degree of vigilance towards group members often reflects the dominance rank of an individual: subordinates pay attention to dominants. Although it has been suggested that subordinates' vigilance may result in spatial centrality of dominants, this h...
Article
Future planning has previously been considered unique to humans. However, certain animals can foresee some of their future needs. We tested long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) ability to transport and after a delay use a rake, in two experiments. Firstly, six rake tool-trained macaques failed to select and after a delay, transport the rake....
Article
Males and females have different sexual interests and subsequently may show conflicting sexual strategies. While dominant males try to monopolize females, promiscuity benefits females and subordinate males. One way to escape monopolization by dominant males is to copulate in their absence. We tested this inhibitory effect of males on the sexual beh...
Article
Full-text available
Male mating success in a multimale–multifemale group can depend on several variables: body condition, dominance, coalitions, “friendship,” or an exchange of services for mating access. Exchange patterns may also be determined by market effects or social relationships. We studied the mating tactics of males in a captive, multimale–multifemale group...