, Volume 63, Issue 10, pp 1447-1458,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Food site residence time and female competitive relationships in wild gray-cheeked mangabeys (Lophocebus albigena)

Abstract

Authors of socioecological models propose that food distribution affects female social relationships in that clumped food resources, such as fruit, result in strong dominance hierarchies and favor coalition formation with female relatives. A number of Old World monkey species have been used to test predictions of the socioecological models. However, arboreal forest-living Old World monkeys have been understudied in this regard, and it is legitimate to ask whether predominantly arboreal primates living in tropical forests exhibit similar or different patterns of behavior. Therefore, the goal of our study was to investigate female dominance relationships in relation to food in gray-cheeked mangabeys (Lophocebus albigena). Since gray-cheeked mangabeys are largely frugivorous, we predicted that females would have linear dominance hierarchies and form coalitions. In addition, recent studies suggest that long food site residence time is another important factor in eliciting competitive interactions. Therefore, we also predicted that when foods had long site residence times, higher-ranking females would be able to spend longer at the resource than lower-ranking females. Analyses showed that coalitions were rare relative to some other Old World primate species, but females had linear dominance hierarchies. We found that, contrary to expectation, fruit was not associated with more agonism and did not involve long site residence times. However, bark, a food with a long site residence time and potentially high resource value, was associated with more agonism, and higher-ranking females were able to spend more time feeding on it than lower-ranking females. These results suggest that higher-ranking females may benefit from higher food and energy intake rates when food site residence times are long. These findings also add to accumulating evidence that food site residence time is a behavioral contributor to female dominance hierarchies in group-living species.

Communicated by J. Setchell