Skip to main content Accessibility help
The Biology of Traditions
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 96
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Buy the print book

Book description

Socially maintained behavioural traditions in non-human species hold great interest for biologists, anthropologists and psychologists. This book treats traditions in non-human species as biological phenomena that are amenable to the comparative methods of inquiry used in contemporary biology. Chapters in the first section define behavioural traditions, and indicate how they can arise in non-human species, how widespread they may be, how they may be recognized and how we can study them. The second part summarizes cutting-edge research programmes seeking to identify traditions in diverse taxa in contributions from leading researchers in this area. The book ends with a comparison and evaluation of the alternative theoretical formulations and their applications presented in the book, and lays out recommendations for future research building on the most promising evidence and lines of thinking. The Biology of Traditions will be essential reading for students and researchers in the fields of anthropology, biology and psychology.


Review of the hardback:‘… essential reading …’

Source: Animal Behaviour

Review of the hardback:'… a valuable addition to the library of any primatologist with an interest in social learning.'

Source: Primate Eye

Review of the hardback:'I think this volume is worth reading in order to be familiar with various studies of tradition and social learning, especially those of capuchin monkeys. Readers of this book will find a very wide range of interests regarding tradition or culture in animals that could even bridge various existing research domains.'

Source: Primates

Review of the hardback:'… a rich and comprehensive volume, grounded in traditional ethology, that offers a timely complement to a library of volumes on social learning in animals. Fragaszy and Perry have assembled interesting and provocative contributions from some of the leading researchers in the field of social learning … we heartily recommend this book … much of the material in this book, and especially the first and last chapters, would be of value to any researcher working in the field.'

Source: Blackwell Verlag

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


  • 14 - Traditions in wild white-faced capuchin monkeys
    pp 391-425
    • By Susan Perry, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, Melissa Panger, Department of Anthropology, George Washington University, 2110 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20052, USA, Lisa M. Rose, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia. 6303 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T, Mary Baker, Department of Anthropology, Whittier College, 13406 Philadelphia St., Whittier, CA 90608, USA, Julie Gros-Louis, Department of Psychology, University of Indiana, 1101 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405, USA, Katherine Jack, Department of Anthropology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608, USA, Katherine C. Mackinnon, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Saint Louis University, 3500 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA, Joseph Manson, Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie, Inselstraße 22, 04103 Leipzig, Germany, Linda Fedigan, Department of Anthropology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada, Kendra Pyle, Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
Further reading
Further reading
Aunger, R. 2000. Darwinizing Culture: The Status of Memetics as a Science. New York: Oxford University Press. (This volume is not only of interest to meme enthusiasts, but also to those interested in the evolution of culture and social learning: Chs. 1, 2, 3, and 15.)
Avital, E. and Jablonka, E. 2000. Animal Traditions: Behavioural Inheritance in Evolution. New York: Cambridge University Press. (This volume is written for an undergraduate audience new to animal behavior, with many examples (conceptual and empirical) of social contributions to learning in natural settings in species less represented in the empirical literature. It emphasizes a process conception of social learning and the potential for social learning to contribute to niche construction. Chs. 1, 10, 14, and 15.)
Box, H. and Gibson, K. 2000. Mammalian Social Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press. (This edited collection of chapters emphasizes social learning as a possible component in the natural history and behavioral ecology of a broad spectrum of mammalian orders: Chs. 1, 4, 5, and 15.)
Dugatkin, L. A. 2000. The Imitation Factor: Evolution Beyond the Gene. New York: Free Press. (This book is written for the nonscientist interested in the role of imitation and culture in animals and its link to evolution and survival. Some of the research of contributors to the present volume is introduced and reviewed here. Chs. 10 and 14.)
Giraldeau, L. -A. 1997. The ecology of information use. In Behavioral Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach, edn, ed. J. R. Krebs and N. B. Davies, pp. 42–68. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific. (This is a comprehensive review of learning and information transfer from a behavioral ecology perspective: Ch. 7.)
Heyes, C. and Galef, B. G., Jr. 1996. Social Learning in Animals: The Roots of Culture. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. (This is an updated collection of empirical chapters by both psychologists and biologists spanning the issues in animal social learning in the 1990s: Chs. 1, 2, 5, and 7.)
Heyes, C., and Huber, L. (ed.) 2000. The Evolution of Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (This collection of essays deals with the evolutionary processes that have shaped cognition, as well as various aspects of cognition such as causal reasoning, culture, consciousness, and categorization: Chs. 3 and 7.)
Shettleworth, S. J. 1998. Cognition, Evolution, and Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press. (This is the best comprehensive overview of learning and cognition from both psychological and biological perspectives: Chs. 7 and 9.)
Zentall, T. and Galef, B. G., Jr. 1988. Social Learning: Psychological and Biological Perspectives. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. (This seminal collection of conceptual and empirical chapters on social learning in nonhuman species influenced the research agenda in this field for several years to follow. This volume is a good starting point for the person new to this area: Chs. 1, 5, and 15.)
Catchpole, C. K. and Slater, P. J. B. 1995. Bird Song: Biological Themes and Variations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (This book gives an overview of what is known about bird song. Several chapters refer to traditions in bird song and their possible causes and consequences: Ch. 8.)
Janik, V. M. and Slater, P. J. B. 1997. Vocal learning in mammals. Advances in the Study of Behavior, 26, 59–99. (This is the most recent review of vocal learning in mammals. It also reports all known cases of geographic variation in mammalian calls and explores their possible causes: Ch. 8.)
Mann, J., Connor, R., Tyack, P., and Whitehead, H. 2000. Cetacean Societies: Field Studies of Dolphins and Whales. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. (This book provides an overview of behavioral diversity in cetaceans and includes a chapter on vocal communication: Ch. 9.)
Payne, R. B. 1996. Song traditions in indigo buntings: origin, improvisation, dispersal, and extinction in cultural evolution. In Ecology and Evolution of Acoustic Communication in Birds, ed. D. E. Kroodsma and E. H. Miller, pp. 198–220. Ithaca: Comstock Publishing. (This review of Payne's work summarizes the results of the most exhaustive study on vocal traditions in animals. It describes the stability and transmission processes of traditions and discusses cultural mutation rates and cultural evolution in bird song: Ch. 8.)
Rendell, L. and Whitehead, H. 2001. Culture in whales and dolphins.Behavior and Brain Sciences, 24, 309–382. (This paper argues that there is good evidence for traditions in cetaceans in a variety of behavioral domains, particularly in the domain of vocal communication: Ch. 9.)
Zahavi, A. and Zahavi, A. 1999. The Handicap Principle: A Missing Piece of Darwin's Puzzle. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (This book, written for the layperson, details the applications of Zahavi's main theoretical contributions to biology, including his “testing of a bond” idea: Ch. 14.)
Mineka, S. and Cook, M. 1988. Social learning and the acquisition of snake fear in monkeys. In Social Learning: Psychological and Biological Perspectives, ed. T. R. Zentall and B. G. Galef Jr., pp. 51–73. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. (This chapter summarizes a research program designed to detect social influences on the development of antipredator behavior in monkeys: Chs. 4 and 14.)
Galef, B. G. Jr. and Giraldeau, L.-A. 2001. Social influences on foraging in vertebrates. causal mechanisms and adaptive functions. Animal Behaviour, 61, 3–15. (This is a very recent brief review of social influences on foraging behavior: Chs. 4 and 5.)
Giraldeau, L.-A. and Caraco, T. 2000. Social Foraging Theory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (This volume concerns how animals search and compete for food in groups. The book reviews the large literature in this area and presents a new theory of social foraging as an economic interaction among individuals: Ch. 1.)
Byrne, R. W. and Whiten, A. (ed.) 1988. Machiavellian Intelligence: Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes and Humans. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (This is an excellent overview of the various hypotheses put forward to explain the evolution of intelligence in primates: Ch. 3.)
Lee, P. C. (ed.) 1999. Comparative Primate Socioecology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Particularly relevant contributions include those from Barton on primate brain evolution and Purvis and Webster on comparative methods: Ch. 3.)
Whiten, A. and Byrne, R. W. (ed.) 1997. Machiavellian Intelligence II: Extensions and Evaluations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (This book details the progress made on the social intelligence hypothesis since the publication of the first edition: Ch. 3.)
de Waal, F. 2001. The Ape and the Sushi Master: Cultural Reflections of a Primatologist. New York: Basic Books. (A very accessible book for the interested reader new to the fields of animal behavior and primatology. The second section of this book includes a popular account of the development of the field of “cultural primatology”, including descriptions of the pioneering research on traditions in Japanese macaques conducted in the 1950s and 1960s: Ch. 14.)
Matsuzawa, T. 2001. Primate Origins of Human Cognition and Behavior. New York: Springer. (This book has several contributions pertinent to social learning and traditions in nonhuman primates: Chs. 1 and 14.)
McGrew, W. C. 1992. Chimpanzee Material Culture: Implications for Human Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (This book presents a detailed analysis of between-site population variation in material culture in chimpanzees: Chs. 11–14.)
Quiatt, D. and Itani, J. 1994. Hominid Culture in Primate Perspective. Denver, CO: University of Colorado Press (This edited volume contains papers on various aspects of the evolution of culture in humans and non-human primates: Ch. 10.)
Whiten, A. and , C. Boesch. 2001. The cultures of chimpanzees. Scientific American, 284, 61–67. (A good introduction to the group contrast approach to the documentation of traditions, and some of the best-known examples used to support the notion of traditions from this perspective: Chs. 1 and 14.)
Whiten, A., Goodall, J., McGrew, W. C., Nishida, T., Reynolds, V., Sugiyama, T., Tutin, C. E. G., Wrangham, R. W., and Boesch, C. 1999. Cultures in chimpanzees. Nature, 399, 682–685. (This article summarizes variations in behavior observed across sites in Africa where chimpanzees have been studied. See also Whiten et al. (2001): Chs. 11 and 14.)
Whiten, A., Goodall, J., McGrew, W. C., Nishida, T., Reynolds, V., Sugiyama, Y., Tutin, C. E. G., Wrangham, R. W., and Boesch, C. 2001. Charting cultural variations in chimpanzees. Behaviour, 138, 1481–1516. (A more detailed version of the data in Whiten et al. (1999): Chs. 11 and 14.)
Boesch, C. and Boesch-Achermann, H. 2000. The Chimpanzees of the Tai Forest. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (This book describes the behavioural ecology of chimpanzees at one long-term study site and provides detailed comparisons with findings from studies of chimpanzees at other long-term study sites: Chs. 10 and 14.)
Fragaszy, D. M., Visalberghi, E., and Fedigan, L. 2003. The Complete Capuchin. The Biology of a Genus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (This book summarizes the behavioral biology of capuchin monkeysC (ebus ) in the laboratory and in the field, including a discussion of social learning: Chs. 6, 13, and 14.)
McGrew, W. C., Marchant, L. F., and Nishida, T. 1996. Great Ape Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (This edited volume is a valuable compendium of research about the ecology, behavior, and psychology of the great apes: Chs. 10 and 12.)
Wrangham, R. W. W., McGrew, W. C., de Waal, F. B. M., and Heltne, P. G. 1994. Chimpanzee Cultures. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (This edited volume presents the behavior and ecology of chimpanzees from a comparative perspective: Ch. 10.)