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Familiarity and threat of opponents determine variation in Thomas langur (Presbytis thomasi) male behaviour during between-group encounters

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During between-group encounters in primates, males often defend mates, food or infants against other males. Males, however, show variation in contests between opponents. In other taxa, such variation has been attributed to variation in familiarity with or threat of opponents. Here we present the results of analyses of between-group encounter intensity variation in Thomas langurs while controlling for threat when evaluating familiarity and vice versa. Encounter intensity was measured by the proportion of encounters with chases and the number of loud calls per minute during the encounter given by the focal male. The results indicate that both familiarity and threat influence encounter intensity. Less familiar opponents had more intense encounters and opponents that differed in the threat level to each other also had more intense encounters. Thus, Thomas langur males seem to incorporate information on both the level of threat and familiarity of other males to make a decision on how to react during a between-group encounter.

Affiliations: 1: Great Ape Trust of Iowa, 4200 SE 44th Ave, Des Moines, IA 50320, USA; Utrecht University, Behavioural Biology, P.O. Box 80086, 3508 TB, Utrecht, The Netherlands; 2: Utrecht University, Behavioural Biology, P.O. Box 80086, 3508 TB, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Ethology Research, Animal Science Department, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Postbus 3306, 2280 GH Rijswijk, The Netherlands


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