Variation in Spatial Cohesiveness in a Group of Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata)
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- Sugiura, H., Shimooka, Y. & Tsuji, Y. Int J Primatol (2011) 32: 1348. doi:10.1007/s10764-011-9533-8
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The spatial cohesiveness of a group is an important element that characterizes the social structure of group-living species. Moreover, remaining cohesive is crucial if individuals are to coordinate their activities and reach collective decisions. We measured interindividual spacing in a group of wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) to assess the spatial cohesiveness of a social group quantitatively. We used simultaneous focal animal sampling, with 2 observers recording individuals’ locations with a global positioning system (GPS) during 3 seasons. Interindividual distances differed among seasons; they were short in autumn (mean ± SD: 25.6 ± 20.1 m), intermediate in winter (mean ± SD: 46.3 ± 35.7 m), and long in summer (mean ± SD: 62.3 ± 47.1 m). Measurements taken in summer revealed extremely wide spacing (maximum: 1225 m), suggesting subgrouping. Distances also varied with activity during each season; they were short during resting and grooming, intermediate during foraging, and long during moving. Group cohesion was also influenced by food distribution. More group members were ≤20 m of the focal individual during foraging on clumped food than foraging on scattered food in each season, and the group foraged on clumped food most frequently in autumn. Individuals were also likely to aggregate at resting/grooming sites and clumped food patches and to disperse when moving within a day. These results demonstrate that Japanese macaques show considerable variation in spatial cohesiveness both within short time periods, e.g., 1 d, and among seasons, and that they adjust group cohesiveness flexibly depending on the food conditions and foraging tactics.