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Social interactions and activity patterns of old Barbary macaques: Further insights into the foundations of social selectivity


Almeling, Laura; Sennhenn-Reulen, Holger; Hammerschmidt, Kurt; Freund, Alexandra M; Fischer, Julia (2017). Social interactions and activity patterns of old Barbary macaques: Further insights into the foundations of social selectivity. American Journal of Primatology, 79(11):e22711.

Abstract

Human aging is accompanied by a decrease in social activity and a narrowing in social networks. Studies in nonhuman primates may provide valuable comparative insights in which way aging impacts social life, in the absence of cultural conventions and an awareness of a limited lifetime. For female Barbary macaques at "La Forêt des Singes" in Rocamadour, France, we previously reported an age-associated decrease in active grooming time and network size. Here, we aimed to extend these findings by investigating in which way physical decline, spatial proximity, and aggression vary with age in female Barbary macaques. We analyzed >1,200 hr of focal observations for 46 females aged 5-29 years. As expected, older females engaged less frequently in challenging locomotor activity, such as climbing or running, than younger ones. The previously reported decrease in grooming time was not due to shorter grooming bout duration. Instead, active grooming bouts lasted even longer, which discounts the idea that manual fatigue explains the shift in grooming pattern. We found that older females tended to be spatially reclusive and that they were less frequently the targets of aggression. Although older females showed aggressive behaviors at similar rates as younger females, the proportion of low-level aggression (i.e., threats) increased with age. We suggest that these threats are not simply a signal of dominance, but also function to deter approaches by others. Overall, these findings are in line with the idea that older females aim to avoid potentially negative interactions, specifically if these are costly. In sum, these findings support the idea that shifts in female Barbary macaques' grooming activity, do not simply result from physical deterioration, but are instead due to a higher selectivity in the choice of social partners.

Abstract

Human aging is accompanied by a decrease in social activity and a narrowing in social networks. Studies in nonhuman primates may provide valuable comparative insights in which way aging impacts social life, in the absence of cultural conventions and an awareness of a limited lifetime. For female Barbary macaques at "La Forêt des Singes" in Rocamadour, France, we previously reported an age-associated decrease in active grooming time and network size. Here, we aimed to extend these findings by investigating in which way physical decline, spatial proximity, and aggression vary with age in female Barbary macaques. We analyzed >1,200 hr of focal observations for 46 females aged 5-29 years. As expected, older females engaged less frequently in challenging locomotor activity, such as climbing or running, than younger ones. The previously reported decrease in grooming time was not due to shorter grooming bout duration. Instead, active grooming bouts lasted even longer, which discounts the idea that manual fatigue explains the shift in grooming pattern. We found that older females tended to be spatially reclusive and that they were less frequently the targets of aggression. Although older females showed aggressive behaviors at similar rates as younger females, the proportion of low-level aggression (i.e., threats) increased with age. We suggest that these threats are not simply a signal of dominance, but also function to deter approaches by others. Overall, these findings are in line with the idea that older females aim to avoid potentially negative interactions, specifically if these are costly. In sum, these findings support the idea that shifts in female Barbary macaques' grooming activity, do not simply result from physical deterioration, but are instead due to a higher selectivity in the choice of social partners.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:November 2017
Deposited On:17 Jan 2018 09:10
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 13:07
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0275-2565
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ajp.22711
PubMed ID:28984992

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