, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 445-467

Testing kin altruism in long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in a food-sharing experiment

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Social grooming and coalition formation have been main foci in studies concerning altruism in monkeys. Results have been inconclusive because the altruistic nature of these behaviors remains unclear. I investigated altruism in a more transparent context via an apparatus in which captive long-tailed macaque females had the choice to exploit a food source themselves or to yield the food to a test partner. I hypothesized that if potential donors behaved altruistically toward kin, they would yield the food sources longer to kin than to nonkin. Of 11 tested potential donors, 8 did not discriminate between daughters or sisters and nonkin. Thus, the experiments do not support the kin altruism hypothesis. Three females let their youngest offspring have more food than matched juvenile nonrelatives. Behavioral observations strongly suggested,however, that it was primarily spiteful behavior toward juvenile nonrelatives that caused the differences between kin and nonkin in these three cases.