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Resource depletion through primate stone technology

Luncz, Lydia V; Tan, Amanda; Haslam, Michael; Kulik, Lars; Proffitt, Tomos; Malaivijitnond, Suchinda; Gumert, Michael

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Lydia V Luncz

Michael Haslam

Lars Kulik

Tomos Proffitt

Suchinda Malaivijitnond

Michael Gumert


Tool use has allowed humans to become one of the most successful species. However, tool-assisted foraging has also pushed many of our prey species to extinction or endangerment, a technology-driven process thought to be uniquely human. Here, we demonstrate that tool-assisted foraging on shellfish by long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand, reduces prey size and prey abundance, with more pronounced effects where the macaque population size is larger. We compared availability, sizes and maturation stages of shellfish between two adjacent islands inhabited by different-sized macaque populations and demonstrate potential effects on the prey reproductive biology. We provide evidence that once technological macaques reach a large enough group size, they enter a feedback loop – driving shellfish prey size down with attendant changes in the tool sizes used by the monkeys. If this pattern continues, prey populations could be reduced to a point where tool-assisted foraging is no longer beneficial to the macaques, which in return may lessen or extinguish the remarkable foraging technology employed by these primates.


Luncz, L. V., Tan, A., Haslam, M., Kulik, L., Proffitt, T., Malaivijitnond, S., & Gumert, M. (2017). Resource depletion through primate stone technology. eLife, 6, Article e23647.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 26, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 8, 2017
Publication Date Sep 8, 2017
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 22, 2019
Journal eLife
Publisher eLife Sciences Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Article Number e23647


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