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Ecological models of female social relationships in primates: similarities, disparities, and some directions for future clarity

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Several models have been proposed to explain the variation that exists in female social relationships among diurnal primate species. While there are similarities among them, notably in the ecological cause of agonistic relationships among females within groups, their differences are most useful in testing which of the models most accurately reflects the real world. These include the question of whether competition is an inevitable cost of living in groups and whether female philopatry is a consequence of the costs of dispersal or the benefits of forming coalitions with female kin. We discuss in detail these similarities and differences, and attempt to integrate the models' divergent views into some guidelines for use in testing between models that will lead to the next generation of models.


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