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Variable participation in the defense of communal feeding territories by blue monkeys in the Kakamega Forest, Kenya

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While blue monkey groups often defend feeding territories against their neighbours, group members do not participate equally. Data spanning 5 years and 5 wild groups were used to address factors that might explain variable participation, both across age-sex classes and among individual adult females. Adult females participated most, although there was a 9-fold difference between those individuals who participated most and least. Juvenile participation increased with age, but female juveniles participated more than males in each cohort. Male juveniles reduced participation as they approached the age of natal emigration. In general, it seems that adult participation patterns are acquired gradually during ontogeny. Among adult females, those with infants participated less than those without infants, and higher-ranking females participated more than lower-rankers. The presence of matrilineal kin in the group did not generally affect participation by adult females. Age-sex class differences and the effect of infant presence can be explained in terms of relative costs and benefits to participation. The lack of a kinship effect was unexpected. The rank effect was also unanticipated, given that rank does not predict reproductive success in this species. High-ranking females may face lower costs, offer staying incentives to lower-ranked females, or trade services with them.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology and New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, Columbia University, 10th floor, Schermerhorn Extension, 1200 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA

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