Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 175–187 | Cite as

Group size and foraging efficiency in yellow baboons

  • Peter B. Stacey


I studied the foraging behaviour of adults in three different-sized groups of yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus) at Amboseli National Park in Kenya to assess the relationship between group size and foraging efficiency in this species. Study groups ranged in size from 8 to 44 members; within each group, I collected feeding data for the dominant adult male, the highest ranking pregnant female, and the highest ranking female with a young infant. There were no significant differences between groups during the study in either the mean estimated energy value of the food ingested per day for each individual (385±27 kJ kg-1 day-1) or in the estimated energy expended to obtain that food (114±3 kJ kg-1 day-1). Mean foraging efficiency ratios, which reflect net energy gain per unit of foraging time, also did not vary as a function of the size of the group in which the baboons were living. There was substantial variation between days in the efficiency ratios of all animals; this was the result of large differences in energy intake rather than in the energy expended during foraging itself. The members of the smallest group spent on the average only one-half as much time feeding each day as did individuals in the two larger groups. However, they obtained almost as much energy while foraging, primarily because their rate of food intake while actually eating tended to be higher than the rate in the other groups. The baboons in the small group were observed closer to trees that they could climb to escape ground predators, and they also were more likely to sit in locations elevated above the ground while resting. Such differences would be expected if the members of the small group were less able to detect approaching predators than individuals that lived in the larger groups. The results of this study suggest that predator detection or avoidance, rather than increased foraging efficiency, may be the primary benefit of living in larger groups in this population.


Small Group Group Size Energy Intake Substantial Variation Young Infant 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter B. Stacey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesIndiana State UniversityTerre HauteUSA

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