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Why do chimpanzee males attack the females of neighboring communities?


Pradhan, Gauri R; Pandit, Sagar A; van Schaik, Carel P (2014). Why do chimpanzee males attack the females of neighboring communities? American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 155(3):430-435.

Abstract

Our closest nonhuman primate relatives, chimpanzees, engage in potentially lethal between-group conflict; this collective aggressive behavior shows parallels with human warfare. In some communities, chimpanzee males also severely attack and even kill females of the neighboring groups. This is surprising given their system of resource defense polygyny, where males are expected to acquire potential mates. We develop a simple mathematical model based on reproductive skew among primate males to solve this puzzle. The model predicts that it is advantageous for high-ranking males but not for low-ranking males to attack females. It also predicts that more males gain a benefit from attacking females as the community's reproductive skew decreases, i.e., as mating success is more evenly distributed. Thus, fatal attacks on females should be concentrated in communities with low reproductive skew. These attacks should also concur with between-community infanticide. A review of the chimpanzee literature provides enough preliminary support for this prediction to warrant more detailed testing.

Abstract

Our closest nonhuman primate relatives, chimpanzees, engage in potentially lethal between-group conflict; this collective aggressive behavior shows parallels with human warfare. In some communities, chimpanzee males also severely attack and even kill females of the neighboring groups. This is surprising given their system of resource defense polygyny, where males are expected to acquire potential mates. We develop a simple mathematical model based on reproductive skew among primate males to solve this puzzle. The model predicts that it is advantageous for high-ranking males but not for low-ranking males to attack females. It also predicts that more males gain a benefit from attacking females as the community's reproductive skew decreases, i.e., as mating success is more evenly distributed. Thus, fatal attacks on females should be concentrated in communities with low reproductive skew. These attacks should also concur with between-community infanticide. A review of the chimpanzee literature provides enough preliminary support for this prediction to warrant more detailed testing.

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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:2014
Deposited On:10 Feb 2015 15:28
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:49
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0002-9483
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22589

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