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Cooperatively breeding cottontop tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) do not donate rewards to their long-term mates

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Cronin, K. A., Schroeder, K. K. E., Rothwell, E. S., Silk, J. B., & Snowdon, C. T. (2009). Cooperatively breeding cottontop tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) do not donate rewards to their long-term mates. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 123(3), 231-241. doi:10.1037/a0015094.

This study tested the hypothesis that cooperative breeding facilitates the emergence of prosocial behavior by presenting cottontop tamarins (Saguinus oedipus) with the option to provide food rewards to pair-bonded mates. In Experiment 1, tamarins could provide rewards to mates at no additional cost while obtaining rewards for themselves. Contrary to the hypothesis, tamarins did not demonstrate a preference to donate rewards, behaving similar to chimpanzees in previous studies. In Experiment 2, the authors eliminated rewards for the donor for a stricter test of prosocial behavior, while reducing separation distress and food preoccupation. Again, the authors found no evidence for a donation preference. Furthermore, tamarins were significantly less likely to deliver rewards to mates when the mate displayed interest in the reward. The results of this study contrast with those recently reported for cooperatively breeding common marmosets, and indicate that prosocial preferences in a food donation task do not emerge in all cooperative breeders. In previous studies, cottontop tamarins have cooperated and reciprocated to obtain food rewards; the current findings sharpen understanding of the boundaries of cottontop tamarins’ food-provisioning behavior.