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Female philopatry and its social benefits among Bornean orangutans


van Noordwijk, M A; Arora, N; Willems, E P; Dunkel, L P; Amda, R N; Mardianah, N; Ackermann, C; Krützen, M; van Schaik, C P (2012). Female philopatry and its social benefits among Bornean orangutans. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66(6):823-834.

Abstract

Female philopatry in mammals is generally associated with ecological and sometimes social benefits, and often with dispersal by males. Previous studies on dispersal patterns of orangutans, largely non-gregarious Asian great apes, have yielded conflicting results. Based on 7 years of observational data and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA analyses on fecal samples of 41 adult Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) from the Tuanan population, we provide both genetic and behavioral evidence for male dispersal and female philopatry. Although maternally related adult female dyads showed similar home-range overlap as unrelated dyads, females spent much more time in association with known maternal relatives than with other females. While in association, offspring of maternally related females frequently engaged in social play, whereas mothers actively prevented this during encounters with unrelated mothers, suggesting that unrelated females may pose a threat to infants. Having trustworthy neighbors may therefore be a social benefit of philopatry that may be common among solitary mammals, thus reinforcing female philopatric tendencies in such species. The results also illustrate the diversity in dispersal patterns found within the great-ape lineage.

Female philopatry in mammals is generally associated with ecological and sometimes social benefits, and often with dispersal by males. Previous studies on dispersal patterns of orangutans, largely non-gregarious Asian great apes, have yielded conflicting results. Based on 7 years of observational data and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA analyses on fecal samples of 41 adult Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) from the Tuanan population, we provide both genetic and behavioral evidence for male dispersal and female philopatry. Although maternally related adult female dyads showed similar home-range overlap as unrelated dyads, females spent much more time in association with known maternal relatives than with other females. While in association, offspring of maternally related females frequently engaged in social play, whereas mothers actively prevented this during encounters with unrelated mothers, suggesting that unrelated females may pose a threat to infants. Having trustworthy neighbors may therefore be a social benefit of philopatry that may be common among solitary mammals, thus reinforcing female philopatric tendencies in such species. The results also illustrate the diversity in dispersal patterns found within the great-ape lineage.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:16 Apr 2012 09:05
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:45
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0340-5443
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
Publisher DOI:10.1007/s00265-012-1330-7
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-61357

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