, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 9-22

First online:

Group fission in a semifree-ranging population of Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus)

  • Jean Prud'HommeAffiliated withDepartement d'Anthropologie, Université de Montréal

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During a 16-month study of semifree-ranging Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) the group under observation divided into two groups. Observations were carried out in 1987–1988, at «La Montagne des Singes,” Kintzheim, France. A subgroup of monkeys, which was already cohesive at the beginning of the study, became progressively autonomous in relation to the rest of the main group, during the mating season. Overt aggression between the males of the two groups during this period brought about the fission. Only low-ranking genealogies left their group of origin. Dominance relations between females remained identical in both groups except for one lineage. The alpha male and the alpha female of the subgroup had a close relationship before the fission occurred. The sequence of agonistic intergroup relations is described and analyzed in relation to male sexual competition and female alliance power. The results suggest that: (1) the males of the subgroup instigated the fission because it was the best strategy for them to counter sexual competition; and (2) the females followed the males in order to maintain their alliance network, necessary to insure their dominance status over subordinate females.

Key Words

Group fission Barbary macaque Macaca sylvanus Sexual competition Female dominance Alliance network