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Inter-individual relationships of female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)

Phillips, Kristin Elise; (1998) Inter-individual relationships of female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) live in large, female philopatric social groups containing several lineages of related females and multiple breeding males who have generally immigrated from other groups. In this study, I examined the social relationships between 27 female rhesus macaques and other adults living in a single, free ranging group on Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. I first examined the time budgets of rhesus macaque females in order to investigate how variation in time for activities affect each female's strategies in maintaining relationships with important allies and to see whether females of different classes -- particularly rank, age, and kinship -- differed in their time allocation patterns. In this study, females spent an average of only 12.5% of their time engaged in subsistence activity (eat, drink, and forage), while sleep and rest together constituted 77.3% of the female activity budget. Thus rhesus macaque females did not seem to face time constraints in meeting their subsistence needs. Nonetheless, there were some class effects on female time budgets, particularly rank. High ranking females spent more time eating foods concentrated at feeding hoppers and drinking from water spigots than did either middle or low ranking females. Both of these results were obtained whether females were alone or with other individuals. In fact, high ranking females spent more overall time in social contact with other animals than did lower ranking females. I next identified the set of preferred partners (affiliates and associates: sensu Smuts 1985) with whom the focal female had close social relationships, using proximity scans collected at 10 minute intervals during focal samples in concert with more detailed data on grooming interactions among dyads. Focal females had between 1 and 5 preferred female partners and between 1 and 6 preferred male partners, and neither female rank, nor age, nor availability of close kin had a significant effect on the number of preferred partnerships a female participated in. Female preferred partners tended to be close kin or members of the female's cohort (born within a year of her). Whether kin or nonkin, female preferred partners tended to be dominant individuals. Male preferred partners also tended to be high ranking. Moreover, preferred males typically were those with longer periods of tenure in the group and, in contrast to female partners, were nearly all nonkin. These same general patterns hold even considering only important preferred partnerships, or those that the focal female was responsible for maintaining. Finally, I tested several hypotheses regarding the function of relationships for female rhesus macaques: what benefits do these females receive from participating in these relationships? One major hypothesi s suggests that females appear to form relationships in order to improve their access to clumped resources such as monkey chow in the feeding hoppers or water from drinking troughs. Predictions based on this hypothesis, however, were not substantiated. A second major hypothesis suggests that females gain a benefit from partnerships in terms of protection from general aggression. Several findings argue in favor of this hypothesis: [1] females received less aggression from preferred partners then from other individuals (when the amount of time spent with each partner type is taken into account), and [2] females were aided more frequently by both female and male preferred partners than they were by other animals. Two other hypotheses -- that preferred partners benefit females in the care and protection of their infants and that preferred male partners benefit females as mates -- have mixed results.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Inter-individual relationships of female rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Biological sciences; Social relationships
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106804
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