Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Divergent strategies in faeces avoidance between two cercopithecoid primates


Sarabian, Cécile; Ngoubangoye, Barthélémy; MacIntosh, Andrew (2020), Divergent strategies in faeces avoidance between two cercopithecoid primates, Dryad, Dataset,


Parasites constitute a major selective pressure which has shaped animal behaviour through evolutionary time. One adaption to parasites consists of recognizing and avoiding substrates or cues that indicate their presence. Among substrates harbouring infectious agents, faeces are known to elicit avoidance behaviour in numerous animal species. However, the function and mechanisms of faeces avoidance in non-human primates has been largely overlooked by scientists. In this study, we used an experimental approach to investigate whether aversion to faeces in a foraging context is mediated by visual and olfactory cues in two cercopithecoid primates: mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) and long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis). Visual and olfactory cues of faeces elicited lower food consumption rates in mandrills and higher food manipulation rates in long-tailed macaques. Both results support the infection avoidance hypothesis and confirm similar tendencies observed in other primate species. More studies are now needed to investigate the divergence of avoidance strategies observed in non-human primates regarding food contamination.