International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 409-424

First online:

Triadic interactions in Savanna-dwelling baboons

  • Euclid O. SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology and Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory UniversityYerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University
  • , Patricia L. WhittenAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University School of MedicineYerkes Regional Primate Research Center, Emory University

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Interactions between adult males and infants may have important consequences not only for males and infants, but also for mothers. Considerable attention has been paid to interactions that involve two males and an infant. Investigators have proposed three different general strategies to account for this behavior: (a) exploitation of the infant for one male’s advantage, (b) protection of the infant from harassment and aggression, and (c) development of relationships with the infant’s mother. We review various accounts of these interactions, detail the hypotheses used to explain the behavior, make predictions derived from the hypotheses, and evaluate available data for testing the predictions. We conclude that multiple factors are probably at work, but the development of social relations between a male and an infant’s mother is a central force.

Key words

Papio monkeys triadic interactions male reproductive tactics female choice male-infant interactions