Within the Macaque Cognition Project, we've established a set of unique facilities for cognitive and behavioural research with Barbary (Macaca sylvanus) and rhesus macaques (M. mulatta) at the Monkey Haven (Isle of Wight), and with crested macaques (M. nigra) at Marwell Zoo (Winchester).
The macaques live in their social groups and can voluntarily take part in interactive cognitive tasks. The macaques have also been trained to use computerised touch-screens, and we use these touch-screens to present the animals with different visual and auditory stimuli to investigate the function and evolution of social communication. All our work is done on public view: visitors to the zoo can watch the all research taking place.
• Crested macaques recognise familiar and unfamiliar individuals from faces and apply their knowledge of their dominance hierarchies to the pictorial representation of their group mates.
• Crested macaques recognise facial expressions and may categorise them according to functional rather than morphological similarities.
• Primate behaviour research centres on public view can have a demonstrable and beneficial effect on public understanding of science.
• Cognitive testing does not increase stress behaviours in crested macaques and help mimic natural patterns of sub-group formation and reunion in captivity.
• Crested macaques can follow the gaze of conspecifics and they are quicker to follow gaze cues from strongly bonded partners.