, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 323–335

Quantitative observations of grooming behavior in free-rangingMacaca mulatta

  • Lee C. Drickamer


Quantitative methods of observation and analysis were used in a 12-month study of grooming behavior of free-rangingMacaca mulatta on La Cueva Island at La Parguera, Puerto Rico. Observations lasting 30–120 minutes were made from eight positions on the island at a standard time of day when monkeys were either feeding or resting. Two dependent variables were obtained: (1) the number of monkeys present in the observation area were noted by age and sex class at five-minute intervals throughout each observation, and (2) the frequency of grooming encounters was tabulated by the age and sex class(es) of groomer and recipient. These data were computed as grooms/hour/possible interacting combination of monkeys. Grooming frequencies were higher in non-feeding situations than when monkeys were feeding. The largest social group had the lowest mean grooming rates, while the smallest group had the highest grooming frequencies. More grooming occurred during the November-to-February mating season than at other periods of the year. Adult females were involved in over 60% of all grooming behavior, juveniles participated in 25% of the grooming, while adult males groomed females, primarily during the mating season, and rarely groomed other males or juveniles. Genealogical relationships, levels of group aggression and the feeding or resting context all influenced the frequency of grooming. This study provides support for the hypothesis that the basic social unit for rhesus macaques consists of a core of adult females with their juvenile and infant progeny.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altmann, S. A., 1962. A field study of the sociobiology of rhesus monkeys,Macaca mulatta.Annals N.Y. Acad. Sci., 102: 338–435.Google Scholar
  2. Bernstein, I. S. &L. G. Sharpe, 1966. Social roles in a rhesus monkey group.Behaviour, 26: 91–104.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Boelkins, R. C. &A. P. Wilson, 1972. Intergroup dynamics of the Cayo Santiago rhesus (Macaca mulatta) with special reference to changes in group membership by males.Primates, 13: 125–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carpenter, C. R., 1942. Sexual behavior of free-ranging rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). I. Specimens, procedures and behavioral characteristics of estrus.J. Comp. Psychol., 33: 113–142.Google Scholar
  5. Drickamer, L. C., 1974. A ten-year summary of population and reproductive data for free-rangingMacaca mulatta at La Parguera, Puerto Rico.Folia primat., 21: 61–80.Google Scholar
  6. ————, 1975. Patterns of space utilization by an island colony of free-ranging rhesus monkeys.Primates, 16: 23–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ————, 1975. Quantitative observations of behavior in free-rangingMacaca mulatta. I. Methodology and Aggression.Behaviour, 55: 209–236.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. ———— &S. H. Vessey, 1973. Group-changing behavior among male rhesus monkeys.Primates, 14: 359–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kaufman, J. H., 1965. A three-year study of mating behavior in a free-ranging band of rhesus monkeys.Ecology, 46: 500–512.Google Scholar
  10. ————, 1967. Social relations of adult males in a free-ranging band of rhesus monkeys. In:Social Communication Among Primates,S. A. Altmann (ed.), Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  11. Koford, C. B., 1966. Population changes in rhesus monkeys: Cayo Santiago 1960–1964.Tulane Stud. Zool., 13: 1–7.Google Scholar
  12. Loy, J., 1970. Behavioral responses of free-ranging rhesus monkeys to food shortage.Amer. J. Phys. Anthrop., 33: 263–272.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. ————, 1971. Estrous behavior of free-ranging rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta).Primates, 12: 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sade, D. S., 1965. Some aspects of parent-offspring and sibling relations in a group of rhesus monkeys, with a discussion of grooming.Amer. J. Phys. Anthrop., 23: 1–17.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Sparks, J., 1967. Allogrooming in primates: a review. In:Primate Ethology,D. Morris (ed.), Aldine Publ. Co., Chicage.Google Scholar
  16. Vandenbergh, J. G., 1967. The development of social structure in free-ranging rhesus monkeys.Behaviour, 29: 179–194.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. ————, 1969. Endocrine coordination in monkeys: Male sexual responses to females.Physiol. Behav., 4: 261–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. ———— &L. C. Drickamer, 1974. Reproductive coordination among free-ranging rhesus monkeys.Physiol. Behav., 13: 373–376.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. ———— &S. H. Vessey, 1968. Seasonal breeding of free-ranging rhesus monkeys and related ecological factors.J. Reprod. Fertil., 15: 71–79.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Washburn, S. L. &I. DeVore, 1961. Social behavior of baboons and early man. In:Social Life of Early Man,S. L. Washburn (ed.), Aldine Publ. Co., Chicago.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee C. Drickamer
    • 1
  1. 1.North Carolina Department of Mental HealthUSA
  2. 2.Biology DepartmentWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA

Personalised recommendations