International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 855–875

Agonistic Interactions and Matrifocal Dominance Rank of Wild Bonobos (Pan paniscus) at Wamba

  • Takeshi Furuichi

DOI: 10.1023/A:1026327627943

Cite this article as:
Furuichi, T. International Journal of Primatology (1997) 18: 855. doi:10.1023/A:1026327627943


I studied dominance relations in a wild group of bonobos at Wamba, Democratic Republic of Congo. Although agonistic interactions between males occurred frequently, most of them consisted only of display, and physical attacks were infrequent. Dominance rank order seemed to exist among males, but its linearity is unclear. Dominant males rarely disturbed copulatory behavior by subordinate males. However, high-ranking males usually stayed in the central position of the mixed party and, so, would have more chance of access to estrous females. Among females, older individuals tended to be dominant over younger individuals. However, agonistic interactions between females occurred rather infrequently, and most consisted of displacement without any overt aggressive behavior. Dominance between males and females is unclear, but females tended to have priority of access to food. The close social status between males and females may be related to the prolonged estrus of females and their close aggregation during ranging. Existence of a male's mother in the group and her dominance status among females seemed to influence his dominance rank among males. Young adult males whose mothers were alive in the group tended to have high status. In some cases, change in dominance between high-ranking males was preceded by a corresponding change in dominance between their mothers. As the dominance status of females is similar to that of males, mothers may be able to support their sons to achieve high status, stay in the center of the mixed party, and so have greater access to females, which may maximize the number of descendants of the mothers.

Pan paniscus bonobo dominance rank social behavior agonistic interaction 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takeshi Furuichi
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of BiologyMeiji-Gakuin UniversityTotsuka, YokohamaJapan