The organization of collective group movements in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus): social structure drives processes of group coordination in macaques

Seltmann, Anne and Majolo, Bonaventura and Schülke, Oliver and Ostner, Julia (2013) The organization of collective group movements in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus): social structure drives processes of group coordination in macaques. PLoS ONE, 8 (6). ISSN 1932-6203

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0067285

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Abstract

Social animals have to coordinate activities and collective movements to benefit from the advantages of group living.
Animals in large groups maintain cohesion by self-organization processes whereas in smaller groups consensus decisions
can be reached. Where consensus decisions are relevant leadership may emerge. Variation in the organization of collective
movements has been linked to variation in female social tolerance among macaque species ranging from despotic to
egalitarian. Here we investigated the processes underlying group movements in a wild macaque species characterized by a
degree of social tolerance intermediate to previously studied congeneric species. We focused on processes before, during
and after the departure of the first individual. To this end, we observed one group of wild Barbary macaques (Macaca
sylvanus) in the Middle Atlas, Morocco using all-occurrence behaviour sampling of 199 collective movements. We found that
initiators of a collective movement usually chose the direction in which more individuals displayed pre-departure behavior.
Dominant individuals contributed to group movements more than subordinates, especially juveniles, measured as
frequencies of successful initiations and pre-departure behaviour. Joining was determined by affiliative relationships and
the number of individuals that already joined the movement (mimetism). Thus, in our study group partially shared
consensus decisions mediated by selective mimetism seemed to be prevalent, overall supporting the suggestion that a
species’ social style affects the organization of group movements. As only the most tolerant species show equally shared
consensus decisions whereas in others the decision is partially shared with a bias to dominant individuals the type of
consensus decisions seems to follow a stepwise relation. Joining order may also follow a stepwise, however opposite,
relationship, because dominance only determined joining in highly despotic, but not in intermediate and tolerant species.

Keywords:Animal behaviour
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:10652
Deposited On:05 Jul 2013 09:05

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