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Changes in the Relationships of Captive Rhesus Monkeys On Giving Birth

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I) Relationships between captive adult female rhesus monkeys were assessed for 6 weeks before and 20 weeks after birth in terms of proximity, approaches and leavings, grooming and agonistic interactions. 2) Before the births, the mothers-to-be spent more time with (and more time grooming with) related than with unrelated individuals. Responsibility for proximity with unrelated adult females to whom the mother was dominant lay primarily with the mother, but where the other female was subordinate it might lie with either party. Mothers-to-be tended to groom adult females dominant to themselves more than they were groomed by them, and vice versa. 3) Differences between the times that mothers-to-be spent near members of different age/sex/rank classes could not be accounted for in terms of generalizations describing preferences of the mothers for members of those classes nor relative preferences of them for her. 4) After the births, members of all age/sex/rank classes tended to be near (and to groom) mothers more when the infants were on the mothers than when they were off but near her, and to be near the mother more when the infants were off but near than when the infants were off and distant from the mother. Proximity between mother and others tended to become more independent of the position of the baby as it developed. 5) Differences between age/sex/rank classes in time spent near the mother after birth were generally similar to those found before birth. The index for the mother's role in maintaining proximity was predominantly negative. 6) All age/sex/rank categories tended to be near the mother less after the birth than before, especially when the infant was off its mother. The differences disappeared with time. Adult males tended to groom the mother less, and adult females to groom her more, than before birth. 7) Changes in proximity between mother and other from before to after birth can be understood in terms of an increase in the attraction of others to mother and a decrease in mothers' affinity for others.

Affiliations: 1: (MRC Unit on the Development and Integration of Behaviour, Madingley, Cambridge, England)


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