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Seasonal Changes in Social Relationships in an All-Female Rhesus Monkey (Macaca Mulatta) Group

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image of Behaviour

In this study we analysed the extent to which the transition from winter to summer season affected the relationships and the social structure of an all-female captive group of rhesus monkeys. We collected data on allogrooming behaviour, gross body contact, and proximity within 1 m during two different periods: from May to August (non-breeding season) and from November to February (breeding season). Hierarchy was linear and not affected by the seasonal change. Allogrooming showed an increase during the non-breeding season that was due to a widening of social relationships. In both periods, grooming received by each animal was strictly related to its rank. Grooming between adjacently-ranked females was more frequent than grooming between distantly-ranked females regardless of season. Proximity within 1 m did not vary between the two periods. Gross body contacts were diversely distributed among individuals in the two periods and increased markedly during the winter breeding season. We conclude that the opposite seasonal change of allogrooming and gross body contact indicates that these behaviours vary independently from each other, and that the environment has an important effect on interfemale social relationships in rhesus monkey groups.

Affiliations: 1: (Laboratorio di Tossicologia Comparata cd Ecotossicologia, Istituto Superiore di Sanità. 1-00161 Rome, Italy)


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