Original Paper

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 64, Issue 11, pp 1875-1885

First online:

Sequence of quorums during collective decision making in macaques

  • Cédric SueurAffiliated withUnit of Social Ecology, Université Libre de BruxellesUniversité de Strasbourg, IPHCCNRSDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton UniversityDEPE, IPHC Email author 
  • , Jean-Louis DeneubourgAffiliated withUnit of Social Ecology, Université Libre de BruxellesCNRS
  • , Odile PetitAffiliated withUnit of Social Ecology, Université Libre de BruxellesUniversité de Strasbourg, IPHCCNRS

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Synchronization of activity is one of the major challenges of any society, and to what extent social animals reach a consensus still remains to be established. In the case of group movements, recent studies have underlined the importance of the pre-departure period and suggested that some individuals in a group express their motivation to move by showing a preference for a specific direction. However, how do other group members really choose the time and direction of movement? This study shows that in two semi-free ranging Tonkean macaque (Macaca tonkeana) groups, several individuals propose different directions for movement by displaying unique behavior. The whole group eventually moves in the choice of direction supported by the majority of individuals according to a sequence of three quorum rules. Moreover, when the number of individuals choosing another direction is higher than their own group, individuals that proposed alternative directions eventually renounce and follow the majority. Despite conflict of interests, group members reach a consensus before the actual start of group movement. This demonstrates that processes of this type, which can be considered to be voting processes, are not exclusive to human societies and may be explained by a complex sequence of simple rules.


Consensus Voting process Vote Threshold Primates Group movement Self-organization