, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 15-30

Intermale affiliative behavior in ringtailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at the Beza-Mahafaly reserve, Madagascar

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Abstract

Intermale affiliative behavior was studied in three groups of naturally occurring ringtailed lemurs over a one-year period. The adult males in the sample exhibited affiliative behavior with all other males in their social groups; but affiliative behavior between some male-male dyads occurred markedly more often than between others. These dyads are called “preferred partnerships.” The formation of preferred partnerships did not appear to be influenced by male dominance rank or age-class. Furthermore, these partnerships were of a short-term nature, and none persisted throughout the entire study period. The following factors may explain the absence of rank or age effects, and the brevity of preferred partnerships: (1) frequent fluctuation in the male dominance hierarchy in each study group; (2) the fact that higher-ranking males may not offer specific benefits to lower-ranking males; and (3) the fact that male dispersal affected the male membership of each group over the 12-month study period. The focal males engaged in significantly more affiliative behavior during the lactation period compared with the other reproductive seasons. Migration partners may offer each other predator protection during the transfer process, and although males that transfer together do not engage in alliance or coalition behavior towards resident males, males transferring in pairs or threesomes are in a better position to spot and defend themselves against attack by resident males. Migration partners also provide social contact for each other while in the process of immigration.