, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 333–338 | Cite as

A multidisciplinary view on cultural primatology: behavioral innovations and traditions in Japanese macaques

  • Jean-Baptiste LecaEmail author
  • Noëlle Gunst
  • Amanda N. Pelletier
  • Paul L. Vasey
  • Charmalie A. D. Nahallage
  • Kunio Watanabe
  • Michael A. Huffman
Special Feature: Review Article French-Japanese collaborations in primatology


Cultural primatology (i.e., the study of behavioral traditions in nonhuman primates as a window into the evolution of human cultural capacities) was founded in Japan by Kinji Imanishi in the early 1950s. This relatively new research area straddles different disciplines and now benefits from collaborations between Japanese and Western primatologists. In this paper, we return to the cradle of cultural primatology by revisiting our original articles on behavioral innovations and traditions in Japanese macaques. For the past 35 years, our international team of biologists, psychologists and anthropologists from Japan, France, Sri Lanka, the USA and Canada, has been taking an integrative approach to addressing the influence of environmental, sociodemographic, developmental, cognitive and behavioral constraints on the appearance, diffusion, and maintenance of behavioral traditions in Macaca fuscata across various domains; namely, feeding innovation, tool use, object play, and non-conceptive sex.


Cultural primatology Innovation Behavioral tradition Japanese macaque 



This research was funded by the following agencies: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), American Institute of Bisexuality (AIB), the L.S.B. Leakey Foundation, as well as the Office of the Dean of Arts and Science and the Office of Research Services at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. We thank James R. Anderson for inviting us to submit this manuscript and one anonymous reviewer for commenting on a previous version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Baptiste Leca
    • 1
    Email author
  • Noëlle Gunst
    • 1
  • Amanda N. Pelletier
    • 1
  • Paul L. Vasey
    • 1
  • Charmalie A. D. Nahallage
    • 2
  • Kunio Watanabe
    • 3
  • Michael A. Huffman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyUniversity of Sri JayewardenepuraNugegodaSri Lanka
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Social Behavior, Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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