, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 555-572

The social grooming of captive female rhesus monkeys: Effects of the births of their infants

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Abstract

We observed the grooming interactions of 13 female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)before and for 12 weeks after the births of their infants. Mothers groomed for similar amounts of time before and after the birth of their infants, but after the birth, the grooming they directed to their infants may have been at the expense of that directed to other partners. Lactating females did not receive more grooming from other females but were approached more often, suggesting that they were more attractive. Mothers that groomed their infants most groomed others least, as if grooming time was limited for each mother or as if she was trying to compensate for avoiding interactions with other partners. Mothers of male infants groomed others more than mothers with female infants did, which might be due to mothers with daughters receiving more aggression and therefore avoiding interaction. Experienced and high-ranking mothers groomed their newborn infants considerably more than primiparous mothers did in the 24 hr following birth. Grooming was preferentially directed at close kin before the births of the infants. Mothers tended to groom higher-ranked partners more than they were groomed by them, and they tended to receive more grooming from lower-ranked partners than they gave, as suggested in models of rank attractiveness.