Kin-biased spatial associations and social interactions in male and female black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra)

in Behaviour
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Kinship has been shown to play a crucial role in shaping the social structure of animal societies. We examined the genetic relationships of adult and sub-adult males (N=17) and females (N=15) from five social groups of black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) at Palenque National Park, Mexico, by genotyping each individual at 21 microsatellite markers. These findings were related to patterns of intragroup spatial associations and affiliative and agonistic interactions recorded over a 28-month period of behavioural observation in the field. We demonstrate that the social structure of this black howler monkey population is dominated by strong social relationships and high degrees of genetic relatedness among females. Female kin had stronger relationships because they were less aggressive to each other than female non-kin. Nevertheless, females resident in the same social group frequently spent time close to one another and affiliated with each other regardless of kinship. Relationships among males from the same social group were based on avoidance and tolerance, as males rarely interacted either affiliatively or agonistically and spent limited time close to one another. Nonetheless, kinship was a significant predictor of agonistic interactions among males, with unrelated or distantly related males engaging in agonism at higher rates than close male kin. Adult males and females rarely co-resided with adult kin from the opposite sex, and they affiliated and spatially associated at rates intermediary to those among females and those among males.

Kin-biased spatial associations and social interactions in male and female black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra)

in Behaviour



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    Map of Palenque National Park showing the distribution of primary tropical rainforest (597 ha), secondary rain forest (300 ha) and human-induced pasture land (274 ha). Locations of the home ranges of the five study groups are indicated.

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    Composition of the three study groups (Balam, Pakal and Motiepa) observed during a first observation period (September 2010–December 2011) and of the two study groups (Bolas and Unites) observed during a second observation period (March 2012–February 2013). Open circles represent disappearance of group members, black circles represent immigration of new group members. Dotted lines indicate periods excluded from the analyses. All study groups had infants and juveniles that were excluded from the analyses and are not presented in the figure. AM, adult male; SAM, sub-adult male; AF, adult female; SAF, sub-adult female; JM, juvenile male; JF, juvenile females.

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    Social relationships and genetic relatedness among group members according to dyad type: (a) Mean ± SE percentage of time dyads spent within 1 m of each other, (b) Mean ± SE rates of affiliative interactions (s/h), (c) Mean ± SE rates of agonistic interactions (bouts/h), (d) Mean ± SE estimated r values. AM = adult male, SAM = sub-adult male, AF = adult female, SAF = sub-adult female.

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