, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 409-424

Triadic interactions in Savanna-dwelling baboons

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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.