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Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 63, Issue 7, pp 1015–1021 | Cite as

Cyclicity in the structure of female baboon social networks

  • S. P. HenziEmail author
  • D. Lusseau
  • T. Weingrill
  • C. P. van Schaik
  • L. Barrett
Original Paper

Abstract

There is an established and very influential view that primate societies have identifiable, persistent social organizations. It assumes that association patterns reflect long-term strategic interests that are not qualitatively perturbed by short-term environmental variability. We used data from two baboon troops in markedly different habitats over three consecutive seasons to test this assumption. Our results demonstrate pronounced cyclicity in the extent to which females maintained differentiated relationships. When food was plentiful, the companionships identified by social network analysis in the food-scarce season disappeared and were replaced by casual acquaintanceships more representative of mere gregariousness. Data from the fourth, food-scarce, season at one site indicated that few companions were re-united. It is likely that this reflected stochastic variation in individual circumstances. These results suggest that attention could profitably be paid to the effects of short-term local contingencies on social dynamics, and has implications for current theories of primate cognitive evolution.

Keywords

Primates Baboons Relationships Social networks Seasonal effects 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Cape Nature and KwaZulu-Natal Parks for research permission. K. Strier, H. Whitehead, M. Newman and D. Rendall very kindly read earlier versions, as did two referees. This research was supported by grants from the NRF (to SPH, LB), Killam Trusts (to DL) and Janggen-Pöhn-Stiftung (to TW).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. P. Henzi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • D. Lusseau
    • 3
  • T. Weingrill
    • 1
    • 4
  • C. P. van Schaik
    • 4
  • L. Barrett
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  3. 3.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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