Novel skill acquisition in ruffed lemurs (Varecia spp.): Preliminary Data from SMARTA Color Vision Study at Duke Lemur Center
Raymond Vagell, Vance J. Vagell, Stephanie J. Tepper, Isabel M. Avery, Rachel L. Jacobs, James Gordon, & Andrea L. Baden.
Psychophysical studies are necessary for many questions related to the evolution of primate sensory systems, particularly in primate color vision, but such studies remain limited, especially in many lemur species. This may be in part because lemurs require extensive training to novel procedures. We trained ruffed lemurs (Varecia spp.) on the Subject-Mediated Automatic Remote Testing Apparatus (SMARTA) for a color vision pilot study at Duke Lemur Center from May to November, 2015. 18 animals were initially used but only 5 were trained. We selected animals based on their initial interest in participating and their continued interest across the first 20 sessions. Training time ranged from 42 to 265 minutes, across 32 to 172 sessions. We found no correlation between total training time and age, r(4) = 0.088, p = 0.888, or between number of training sessions and age, r(4) = 0.048, p = 0.940.Furthermore, we found no significant difference between sexes in mean total training time (t(3) = 0.29, p = 0.605) or total number of training sessions (t(3) = 0.243, p = 0.824). While acknowledging our sample size, we found no evidence that training is influenced by age and sex. Although training requires an initial time investment that varies across individual study subjects, the SMARTA helps to eliminate user bias and error, which outweighs the time investment.
A copy of my IPS/ASP 2016 poster (Vagell et al., 2016) can be downloaded here.
If you are interested in SMARTA, a copy of that poster (Vagell, Vagell, & Baden, 2015) can be downloaded here.