Embraces and grooming in captive spider monkeys

Shaffner, Colleen M. and Aureli, Filippo (2005) Embraces and grooming in captive spider monkeys. International Journal of Primatology, 26 (5). pp. 1093-1106. ISSN 1573-8604

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Full text URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10764-005-6460-6

Abstract

Relatively little information is available regarding the role of social grooming and embraces in spider monkeys that live in fission-fusion societies in which individuals are usually split into subgroups. We investigated whether embraces and grooming have similar roles in captive spider monkeys by examining their occurrence in two contexts. One context was fusion, i.e. when the monkeys moved into an area of the enclosure where other monkeys were present, in which individuals from different subgroups were expected to exchange greeting behavior. The other context was the access to young infants, in which females were expected increase their friendly behavior toward mothers. We collected data by observing all individuals within a subgroup and via focal animal sampling. We found that overall embraces occurred more frequently than grooming and that their distributions were not correlated. The frequency of embraces was positively associated with the number of fusion events per observation, whereas the frequency of grooming bouts was not. Furthermore, embraces were more frequent following initial approaches after fusion versus subsequent approaches, and the figure was higher than the corresponding one for grooming. Mothers received more embraces after than before the birth of their infants, whereas there was no such effect for grooming. Embraces, but not grooming, play a role in the regulation of social relationships in spider monkeys. Embraces may serve as signals of benign disposition in contexts that are likely to be associated with tension, such as fusion and access to infants.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Relatively little information is available regarding the role of social grooming and embraces in spider monkeys that live in fission-fusion societies in which individuals are usually split into subgroups. We investigated whether embraces and grooming have similar roles in captive spider monkeys by examining their occurrence in two contexts. One context was fusion, i.e. when the monkeys moved into an area of the enclosure where other monkeys were present, in which individuals from different subgroups were expected to exchange greeting behavior. The other context was the access to young infants, in which females were expected increase their friendly behavior toward mothers. We collected data by observing all individuals within a subgroup and via focal animal sampling. We found that overall embraces occurred more frequently than grooming and that their distributions were not correlated. The frequency of embraces was positively associated with the number of fusion events per observation, whereas the frequency of grooming bouts was not. Furthermore, embraces were more frequent following initial approaches after fusion versus subsequent approaches, and the figure was higher than the corresponding one for grooming. Mothers received more embraces after than before the birth of their infants, whereas there was no such effect for grooming. Embraces, but not grooming, play a role in the regulation of social relationships in spider monkeys. Embraces may serve as signals of benign disposition in contexts that are likely to be associated with tension, such as fusion and access to infants.
Keywords:Social bevaviour, Primates, Ateles, Fission-fusion, Embraces, Grooming
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:764
Deposited By: Bev Jones
Deposited On:22 Jun 2007
Last Modified:22 Feb 2010 15:14

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