, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 1249-1270

Social Influences on Group Membership in Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi

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Abstract

The size and composition of a social group can influence the reproductive success of its members. I examined the hypothesis that residents actively try to manipulate group size and composition in Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi). I collected behavioral data from 21 individuals in 5 social groups from November 2000 to March 2002 in the Kirindy Forest (C.F.P.F.) of western Madagascar. I investigated the affiliative and agonistic behaviors of resident males and females toward other group members to determine whether residents attempt to manipulate the costs and benefits of group membership. I also examined 3 cases of immigration attempts and 1 case of emigration. As expected, group members facilitated the residency of subordinate members of the opposite sex. For example, females sought out the subordinate males, responded to their calls, and even groomed them more. However, intrasexual relationships were also important for establishing or maintaining residency. The data, in conjunction with the observations of immigration and emigration events, suggest that resident individuals of both sexes attempt to influence group size and composition. I suggest that single–male groups are not the norm in Propithecus verreauxi verreauxi because females encourage, and males do not discourage, multiple males to reside in the group to increase group stability and to reduce the risk of infanticide.