, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 303-312

Aggressive intergroup encounters in two populations of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata)

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It is predicted that variation in intergroup relationships in group living primates reflects the cost and benefit of resource defense. We tested the applicability of the model by examining population difference, group difference, and seasonal difference in behaviors during intergroup encounters in two populations of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), one of six groups from Yakushima Island, and the other of three groups from Kinkazan Island. We found that the nature of intergroup encounter varied with group identity, reproductive seasonality, and population. Yakushima groups showed aggressive behaviors more frequently than did Kinkazan groups and the difference was consistent with the food competition model, both because of the involvement of females, and because home ranges were smaller on Yakushima than on Kinkazan, and thus more defensive. Both sexes of animals participated in aggressive interactions, but males were more aggressive than females. Furthermore, Yakushima population showed more agonistic intergroup behaviors during the mating season than the non-mating season. Also during the encounters, intergroup mating was observed, but only in Yakushima. It is concluded that intergroup relationships reflect the mate guarding behavior by group males. However, the agonistic relationship during non-mating season, especially that of among females, is also consistent with the food competition model. It is also noted that males' behavior toward other groups can also be interpreted as a form of investigative behavior before possible transfer into a new group.