Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Kinship and behavior in nonhuman primates

  • 146 Accesses

  • 7 Citations


Nonhuman primates show significantly more social interaction with matrilineal kin than nonkin. There is little evidence for kin recognition per se, and long-term association, fostered by long periods of biological dependency, strong sociality, and impressive cognitive capacities, is sufficient to account for the correlation between kinship and sociality. Association, as a proximal mechanism, in no way detracts from the adaptive significance of sociality strongly biased toward kin.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Altmann, J. (1980).Baboon Mothers and Infants, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

  2. Altmann, J. (1984). Sociobiological perspectives on parenthood. In Cohen, R. S., Cohler, B. J., and Weissman, S. H. (eds.),A Psychodynamic Perspective, Guilford Press, New York, pp. 9–23.

  3. Baxter, M. J., and Fedigan, L. M. (1979). Grooming and consort partner selection in a troop of Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata).Arch. Sex. Behav. 8:445–458.

  4. Bernstein, I. S. (1975). Activity patterns in a gelada monkey group.Folia. Primatol. 23:50–71.

  5. Bernstein, I. S., and Ehardt, C. L. (1985). Agonistic aiding: Kinship, rank, age and sex influences.Am. J. Primatol. 8:37–52.

  6. Bernstein, I. S., and Ehardt, C. L. (1986). The influence of kinship and socialization on aggressive behaviour in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta).Anim. Behav. 34(3):739–747.

  7. Busse, C. (1984). Triadic interactions among male and infant chacma baboons. In Taub, D. M. (ed.),Primate Paternalism, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 186–212.

  8. Chapais, B. (1985). An experimental analysis of a mother-daughter rank reversal in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata).Primates 26(4):407–423.

  9. Cheney, D. L., and Seyfarth, R. M. (1985a). Vervet monkey alarm calls: Manipulation through shared information?Behaviour 94(1–2):150–166.

  10. Cheney, D. L., and Seyfarth, R. M. (1985b). Social and non-social knowledge in vervet monkeys.Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London B308(1135):187–201.

  11. Colvin, J. D. (1985). Breeding-season relationships of immature male rhesus monkeys with females. I. Individual differences and constraints on partner choice.Int. J. Primatol. 6:261–287.

  12. Deag, J. M., and Crook, J. H. (1971). Social behaviour and “agonistic buffering” in the wild barbary macaque (Macaca sylvania).Fol. Primatol. 15:183–200.

  13. de Waal, F. B. M., and Yoshihara, D. (1983). Reconciliation and redirected affection in rhesus monkeys.Behaviour 85(3–4):224–241.

  14. Dunbar, R. I. M. (1984). Infant-use by male gelada in agonistic contexts: Agonistic buffering, progeny protection of soliciting support?Primates 25(1):28–35.

  15. Eaton, G. G. (1976). The social order of Japanese macaques.Sci. Am. 235(4):97–106.

  16. Eaton, G. G., Johnson, D. F., Glick, B. B., and Worlein, J. M. (1985). Development in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata): Sexually dimorphic behavior during the first year of life.Primates 26(3):238–247.

  17. Ehardt, C. L., and Bernstein, I. S. (1986). Matrilineal overthrows in rhesus monkey groups.Int. J. Primatol. 7:157–181.

  18. Fedigan, L. M. (1983). Dominance and reproductive success in primates.Yearbk. Phys. Anthropol. 26:91–129.

  19. Fredrickson, W. T., and Sackett, G. P. (1984). Kin preferences in primates (Macaca nemestrina): Relatedness or familiarity?J. Comp. Psychol. 98:29–34.

  20. Furuichi, T. (1983). Interindividual distance and influence of dominance on feeding in a natural Japanese macaque troop.Primates 24(4):445–455.

  21. Gallup, G. G., Jr., Wallnau, L. B., and Suarez, S. D. (1980). Failure to find self-recognition in mother-infant and infant-infant rhesus monkey pairs.Fol. Primatol. 33:210–219.

  22. Glick, B. B., Eaton, G. G., Johnson, D. F., and Worlein, J. M. (1986a). Development of partner preferences in Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata): Effects of gender and kinship during the second year of life.Int. J. Primatol. 7(5):467–479.

  23. Gouzoules, H. (1984). Social relations of males and infants in a troop of Japanese monkeys: A consideration of causal mechanisms. In Taub, D. M. (ed.),Primate Paternalism, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 127–145.

  24. Gouzoules, S. (1984). Primate mating systems, kin associations, and cooperative behavior: Evidence for kin recognition?Yearbk. Phys. Anthropol. 27:99–134.

  25. Hall, K. R. L. (1964). Aggression in monkey and ape societies. In Carthy, J. D., and Ebling, F. J. (eds.),The Natural History of Aggression, Academic Press, London, pp. 51–64.

  26. Hamilton, W. J., III (1984). Significance of paternal investment by primates to the evolution of adult male-female associations. In Taub, D. M. (ed.),Primate Paternalism, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 309–335.

  27. Hepper, P. G. (1986). Kin recognition: Functions and mechanisms. A review.Biol. Rev. 61:63–93.

  28. Hrdy, S. B. (1976). Care and exploitation of nonhuman primate infants by conspecifics other than the mother.Adv. Study Behav. 6:101–158.

  29. Kaplan, J. R. (1978). Fight interference and altruism in rhesus monkeys.Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 49:241–249.

  30. Kawamura, S. (1965). Matriarchal social ranks in the Minoo B troop: A study of the rank system of Japanese monkeys. In Altmann, S. A. (ed.),Japanese Monkeys, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 105–112.

  31. Kuester, J., and Paul, A. (1986). Male-infant relationships in semi-free-ranging Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) of Affenberg Salem/FRG: Testing the “male care” hypothesis.Am. J. Primatol. 10(4):315–327.

  32. Kummer, H. (1971).Primate Societies. Group Techniques of Ecological Adaptation, Aldine-Atherton, Chicago.

  33. Kurland, J. A. (1977). Kin selection in the Japanese monkey.Contrib. Primatol. 12:i-x, 1–145.

  34. Kurland, J. A., and Gaulin, S. J. C. (1984). The evolution of male parental investment: Effects of genetic relatedness and feeding ecology on the allocation of reproductive effort. In Taub, D. M. (ed.),Primate Paternalism, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York pp. 259–308.

  35. Lancaster, J. B. (1984). Evolutionary perspectives on sex differences in the higher primates. In Rossi, A. S. (ed.),Gender and Life Course, Aldine, New York, pp. 3–27.

  36. Missakian, E. A. (1973). Genealogical mating activity in free-ranging groups of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) on Cayo Santiago.Behavior 45:225–241.

  37. Paul, A., and Kuester, J. (1985). Intergroup transfer and incest avoidance in semifree-ranging Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) at Salem (FRG).Am. J. Primatol. 8:317–322.

  38. Ruehlmann, T. E., Bernstein, I. S., and Judge, P. G. (1987). The influence of adult male sexual behavior and inbreeding in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Paper presented at Animal Behavior Society, Williams College, Mass.

  39. Sackett, G. P., and Fredrickson, W. T. (1987). Social preferences by pigtailed macaques: Familiarity versus degree and type of kinship.Anim. Behav. 35(2):603–606.

  40. Seyfarth, R. M., and Cheney, D. L. (1984). Grooming, alliances and reciprocal altruism in vervet monkeys.Nature 308(5959):541–543.

  41. Shively, C. (1985). The evolution of dominance hierarchies in nonhuman primate society. In Ellyson, S. L., and Dovido, J. F. (eds.),Power, Dominance, and Nonverbal Behavior, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 67–87.

  42. Shively, C., and Smith, D. G. (1985). Social status and reproductive success of maleMacaca fascicularis.Am. J. Primatol. 9:129–135.

  43. Small, M. F., and Smith, D. G. (1981). Brief report: Interactions with infants by full siblings, paternal half-siblings, and nonrelatives in a captive group of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta).Am. J. Primatol. 1:91–94.

  44. Smith, D. G. (1982). A test of the randomness of paternity of members of maternal sibships in six captive groups of rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta).Int. J. Primatol. 3(4):461–468.

  45. Stein, D. M. (1984).The Sociobiology of Infant and Adult Male Baboons, Ablex, Norwood, N.J.

  46. Strum, S. C. (1984). Why males use infants. In Taub, D. M. (ed.),Primate Paternalism, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 146–185.

  47. Sugiyama, Y. (1984). Recent advances in the field study of male and female ranking order in the Japanese monkey (Macaca fuscata). In Roonwal, M. L., Mohnot, S. M., and Rathore, N. S. (eds.),Current Primate Researches, University of Jodhpur, Jodhpur, India, pp. 417–422.

  48. Takahata, Y. (1982). Social relations between adult males and females of Japanese monkeys in the Arashiyama B Troop.Primates 23:1–23.

  49. Taub, D. M. (1984). Male caretaking behavior among wild barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). In Taub, D. M. (ed.),Primate Paternalism, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, pp. 20–55.

  50. Tinbergen, N. (1951).The Study of Instinct, Clarendon Press of Oxford University Press, Oxford.

  51. Wilson, M. E., and Gordon, T. P. (1979). Sexual activity of male rhesus monkeys introduced into heterosexual group.Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 50:515–523.

  52. Wu, H. M. H., Holmes, W. G., Medina, S. R., and Sackett, G. P. (1980). Kin preference in infantMacaca nemestrina.Nature 285:225–227.

Download references

Author information

Additional information

This work was supported by National Science Foundation Grant BNS 86 16691 and, in part, by NIH grant RR 00165 to the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center. The Yerkes Primate Center is fully accredited by the AALAC.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bernstein, I.S. Kinship and behavior in nonhuman primates. Behav Genet 18, 511–524 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01065518

Download citation

Key Words

  • nonhuman primates
  • kinship
  • agonistic behavior
  • sociality
  • kin recognition