Original Article

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 197-204

First online:

Social relationships among adult female baboons (Papio cynocephalus) II. Variation in the quality and stability of social bonds

  • Joan B. SilkAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of California Email author 
  • , Susan C. AlbertsAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Duke UniversityInstitute for Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya
  • , Jeanne AltmannAffiliated withInstitute for Primate Research, National Museums of KenyaDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton UniversityDepartment of Conservation Biology

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A growing body of evidence suggests that social bonds have adaptive value for animals that live in social groups. Although these findings suggest that natural selection may favor the ability to cultivate and sustain social bonds, we know very little about the factors that influence the quality or stability of social bonds. Here, we draw on data derived from a 16-year study of baboons living in seven different social groups in the Amboseli basin of Kenya to evaluate the quality and stability of social bonds among females. Our results extend previous analyses, which demonstrate that females form the strongest bonds with close maternal and paternal kin, age mates (who may be paternal kin), and females who occupy similar ranks but are not maternal relatives. Here we show that the same factors influence the quality and strength of social bonds. Moreover, the results demonstrate that the quality of social bonds directly affects their stability.


Social bonds Nepotism Kin selection Reciprocity Friendship