, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 70-83

The evolution and socioecology of dominance in primate groups: A theoretical formulation, classification and assessment

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Dominance hierarchies are presumed to evolve by individual selection from an evolutionary compromise between intraspecific competition for resources and for mates. The hypothesis is put forward that when competition in “stable” habitats leads to “niche breadth,” a species is preadapted to life in heterogeneous environments and the consequent selection for fecundity. Status patterns are viewed as systems of signals communicating differential tendencies among individuals to attack or retreat, and a simple graphical model is presented which relates the costs or benefits to fitness of aggressive or appeasement behavior and interindividual distance. Primate societies are classified on the basis of their dominance hierarchies, and the ecological correlates of these patterns are discussed. Based on hypotheses presented in the paper, topics for future research are suggested.