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Environmental and Social Influences On Autogrooming Behaviour in a Captive Group of Java Monkeys

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This study was aimed at evaluating the influence of environmental and social factors on autogrooming behaviour of captive Java monkeys. The subjects were one male and five female adult monkeys housed in an outdoor cage measuring 3.3 x 2.2 x 3.3(H) m. Data on autogrooming were collected during one-hour observation sessions by combining focal behaviour and complete record sampling techniques. A total of 150 hr of observation were made with each daylight hour between 0800 hours and 1600 hours sampled 16 to 20 times. 1) Autogrooming by each of the study subjects showed marked variations throughout the day. The major amount of autogrooming was recorded between 0800 hours and 1100 hours with a second minor peak occurring between 1200 hours and 1400 hours. The lowest mean levels were recorded in the late morning and in the late afternoon. 2) Although there was evidence that the influence of climatic factors was less than that exerted by the time of day, the results indicated that temperature and/or relative humidity were instrumental in influencing the amount of autogrooming that the monkeys performed. More autogrooming was done under conditions of high temperature and low relative humidity. 3) Interindividual proximity was shown to influence autogrooming. Female autogrooming proved to be positively correlated with proximity (within 1 m) to the male. By contrast, there was no significant correlation between autogrooming by the females and their contact score with the male. We interpreted these results as evidence that a relevant portion of the autogrooming recorded in the study group was done as a displacement activity and/or as a redirected activity. Our interpretation is based on the assumption that, for the females, being close to the male can result in a conflict situation whereas being in contact with him is a goal situation which thus corresponds, by definition, to the absence of conflict.

Affiliations: 1: Cattedra di Clinica Psichiatrica, II Università di Roma, Viale di Villa Massimo 47, 00161 Rome; 2: Cattedra di Ecologia ed Etologia Animale, Dipartimento di Genetica e Biologia Molecolare, Università La Sapienza, 00185 Rome, Italy

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