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The Wounded Leader a Spontaneous Temporary Change in the Structure of Agonistic Relations Among Captive Java-Monkeys (Macaca Fascicularis)

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

In a captive group of Java-monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) the established leader got injured, probably by a bite of his son: the second ranking male. It was the first time we ever saw the old leader show submission, namely several times towards this son. However, he did so only during one day. Before, during and after that day the distribution of agonistic behaviours over the groupmembers had been studied extensively, with an accent on complex agonistic interactions. This study revealed the following facts about "the day of the wounded leader": a) Although signs of tension between the two males were clearly visible, no trace of aggression between them occurred. b) The intensity and frequency of aggressive actions in the group were unusually high. This outburst was accounted for mainly by the aggressive activities of the two males against other groupmembers. c) The two males joined each other's aggression much more often than usual. d) The old leader started to show a type of aggression that he showed never before and never after; this type is characteristic for lower ranking Java-monkeys (i.e. appeal-aggression). The discussion of this case-story investigates the possibility that mechanisms labelled as "respect for aging leaders" and "joint-redirection" exist, which might serve the maintainance of social relations in primate groups.

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Comparative Physiology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands


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