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Female vervet monkeys fine-tune decisions on tolerance versus conflict in a communication network


Borgeaud, Christèle; Schnider, Alessandra; Krützen, Michael; Bshary, Redouan (2017). Female vervet monkeys fine-tune decisions on tolerance versus conflict in a communication network. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 284(1867):20171922.

Abstract

Group living promotes opportunities for both cooperation and competition. Selection on the ability to cope with such opposing social opportunities has been proposed as a driving force in the evolution of large brains in primates and other social species. However, we still know little about the degree of complexity involved in such social strategies. Here, we report advanced social strategies in wild vervet monkeys. Building on recent experimental evidence that subordinate females trade grooming for tolerance from higher-ranking individuals during foraging activities, we show that the audience composition strongly affects this trade. First, tolerance was lower if the audience contained individuals that outranked the subordinate partner, independently of audience size and kinship relationships. Second, we found a significant interaction between previous grooming and relative rank of bystanders: dominant subjects valued recent grooming by subordinates while intermediate ranked subjects valued the option to aggress subordinate partners in the presence of a dominant audience. Aggressors were also more likely to emit coalition recruitment calls if the audience contained individuals that outranked the subordinate partner. In conclusion, vervet monkeys include both recent grooming and knowledge about third-party relationships to make complex decisions when trading grooming for tolerance, leading to a finely balanced trade-off between reciprocation and opportunities to reinforce rank relationships.

Abstract

Group living promotes opportunities for both cooperation and competition. Selection on the ability to cope with such opposing social opportunities has been proposed as a driving force in the evolution of large brains in primates and other social species. However, we still know little about the degree of complexity involved in such social strategies. Here, we report advanced social strategies in wild vervet monkeys. Building on recent experimental evidence that subordinate females trade grooming for tolerance from higher-ranking individuals during foraging activities, we show that the audience composition strongly affects this trade. First, tolerance was lower if the audience contained individuals that outranked the subordinate partner, independently of audience size and kinship relationships. Second, we found a significant interaction between previous grooming and relative rank of bystanders: dominant subjects valued recent grooming by subordinates while intermediate ranked subjects valued the option to aggress subordinate partners in the presence of a dominant audience. Aggressors were also more likely to emit coalition recruitment calls if the audience contained individuals that outranked the subordinate partner. In conclusion, vervet monkeys include both recent grooming and knowledge about third-party relationships to make complex decisions when trading grooming for tolerance, leading to a finely balanced trade-off between reciprocation and opportunities to reinforce rank relationships.

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:Machiavellian intelligence, audience effect, cognition, strategic behaviour, vervet monkeys
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:27 Dec 2017 16:24
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 12:01
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.1922
PubMed ID:29142114
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant IDCRSI33_133040
  • : Project Titlethe evolution of social behaviour in vervet monkeys: an experimental approach

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