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Male Colobus vellerosus compete intensely for access to females, which sometimes leads to mortal wounding. Yet, males often form cooperative relationships to overtake prime-aged males and immigrate into bisexual groups. We investigated the factors that predicted the presence of coalitions and affiliative relationships among males in this species. Interactions among males in 292 dyads from six groups were examined from 2004 to 2010 at Boabeng-Fiema, Ghana. Affiliation rates among males were higher and aggression rates lower when one or both males in the dyad were subadult, compared to adult male dyads. Affiliation rates tended to be higher among males that were kin but no other aspect of male relationships predicted affiliation. Coalitions among males were rarely observed and primarily occurred in the context of joint defense against extra-group males (93.5% of events). Adult males were more likely to provide coalitionary support than subadults and coalitions occurred significantly more often when both males were high ranking, since these males probably benefited most in terms of reproductive success from excluding extra-group males. Rank-changing and leveling coalitions among low-ranking males appear to be quite rare or absent in C. vellerosus. The costs of these types of coalitions may be too high or male group size too small on average for these types of coalitions to have been selected for. The overall low rates of affiliation and coalitions among male C. vellerosus are likely influenced by male-biased dispersal and the high level of male–male competition.

In: Behaviour