International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 440–446 | Cite as

Risky Business? Lethal Attack by a Jaguar Sheds Light on the Costs of Predator Mobbing for Capuchins (Cebus capucinus)

  • Lucía Tórrez
  • Nena Robles
  • Anyuri González
  • Margaret C. Crofoot


While some primates attempt to avoid predation by fleeing or hiding, others actually approach, harass, and sometimes attack potential predators, a behavior known as mobbing. Mobbing seems to invite obvious risks, but predators have rarely been observed to injure or kill animals that harass them. The true costs of predator mobbing and the functional significance of this behavior remain poorly understood. Here, we report a fatal attack by a jaguar (Panthera onca) on a mobbing capuchin (Cebus capucinus) that we observed on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. This rare observation illustrates that mobbing predators such as large felids can, indeed, be costly. However, to understand fully the costs of mobbing, the energetic and opportunity costs that primates incur when they harass predators must also be considered.


Antipredator strategies Barro Colorado Island Cebus capucinus Mobbing Panthera onca 



We thank the Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente (ANAM) and the government of the Republic of Panama for permission to conduct this research. We thank the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Princeton University, and the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology for funding. We also thank the staff of the Barro Colorado Island research station, whose daily help and support was critical to the success of this research. We extend special thanks to Jacalyn Giacalone, Ben Hirsch, Sara Pinzon, Roland Kays, and Oris Acevedo for their helpful comments and suggestions on a previous version of this manuscript. Two anonymous reviewers and Joanna Setchell provided thoughtful and constructive comments and criticisms that we gratefully acknowledge.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucía Tórrez
    • 1
  • Nena Robles
    • 1
  • Anyuri González
    • 1
  • Margaret C. Crofoot
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstitutePanamáRepública de Panamá
  2. 2.Division of Migration and Immuno-EcologyMax Planck Institute for OrnithologyRadolfzellGermany
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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