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


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.


Primates Baboons Relationships Social networks Seasonal effects 



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).


  1. Aureli F, de Waal FBM (2000) Natural conflict resolution. University of California Press, Los AngelesGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrett L, Henzi SP (2002) Temporal constraints on relationship formation among female primates. Behaviour 139:263–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrett L, Gaynor D, Henzi SP (2002) A dynamic interaction between aggression and grooming among female chacma baboons. Anim Behav 63:1047–1053CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett L, Henzi SP, Weingrill T, Lycett JE, Hill RA (1999) Market forces predict grooming reciprocity in female baboons. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 266:665–670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boroditsky L (2000) Metaphoric structuring: understanding time through spatial metaphors. Cognition 75:1–28PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (1998) Model selection and inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen S, Wills TA (1985) Stress, social support and the buffering hypothesis. Psych Bull 98:310–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cords M (1997) Friendships, alliances, reciprocity and repair. In: Whiten A, Byrne RW (eds) Machiavellian intelligence II: extensions and evaluations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 24–49Google Scholar
  9. Dunbar RIM (1992) Time: a hidden constraint on the behavioural ecology of baboons. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 31:35–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dunbar RIM (1998) The social brain hypothesis. Evol Anthrop 6:178–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Efron B, Tibshirani RJ (1993) Introduction to Bootstrap. Chapman and Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Flack JC, Girvan M, de Waal FBM, Krakauer DC (2006) Policing stabilizes construction of social niches in primates. Nature 439:426–429PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Henzi SP, Barrett L (2003) Evolutionary ecology, sexual conflict and behavioral differentiation among baboon populations. Evol Anthrop 12:217–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Henzi SP, Barrett L (2005) The historical socio-ecology of savannah baboons. J Zool 265:215–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Henzi SP, Byrne RW, Whiten A (1992) Patterns of movement by baboons in the Drakensberg Mountains: primary responses to the environment. Int J Primatol 13:601–629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hill RA 1999 Ecological and demographic determinants of time budgets in baboons: implications for cross-populational models of baboon socioecology. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool, UKGoogle Scholar
  17. Hinde R (1976) Interactions, relationships and social structure. Man 11:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Krause J, Croft DP, James R (2007) Social network theory in the behavioural sciences: potential applications. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 62:15–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Krause J, Lusseau D, James R (2009) Animal social networks: an introduction. Behav Ecol Sociobiol. doi: 10.1007/s00265-009-0747-0
  20. Lusseau D, Newman M (2004) Identifying the role that animals play in their social networks. Proc Roy Soc Lond B 271:S477–S481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mitchell JC (1969) Social Networks in Urban Situations. Manchester University Press, Manchester, UKGoogle Scholar
  22. Myers M (1983) Space, time and the pattern of individual associations in a group-living species: sanderlings have no friends. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 12:129–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Plotkin H (1994) Darwin machines and the nature of knowledge. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  24. Pruetz JDV, Isbell LA (2000) Correlations of food distribution and patch size with agonistic interactions in female vervets (Chlorocebus aethiops) and patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas) living in simple habitats. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 49:38–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ramos-Fernández G, Boyer D, Aureli F, Vick L (2009) Association networks in spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi). Behav Ecol Sociobiol. doi: 10.1007/s00265-009-0719-4
  26. van Schaik CP (1989) The ecology of social relationships amongst female primates. In: Standen V, Foley RA (eds) Comparative Socioecology: the behavioral ecology of humans and other mammals. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 195–218Google Scholar
  27. Scott DW (1992) Multivariate density estimation. Theory, practice and visualization. Wiley, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Scott J (2000) Social network analysis. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Shimooka Y (2003) Seasonal variation in association patterns of wild spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth belzebuth) at La Macarena, Colombia. Primates 44:83–90PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Silk J, Seyfarth RM, Cheney DL (1999) The structure of social relationships among female savannah baboons in Moremi Reserve, Botswana. Behaviour 136:679–703CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Silk J, Alberts SC, Altmann J (2003) Social bonds of female baboons enhance infant survival. Science 302:1231–1234PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Silk JB, Alberts SC, Altmann J (2006) Social relationships among adult female baboons (Papio cynocephalus) I. Variation in the strength of social bonds. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 61:183–195Google Scholar
  33. Whitehead H (1995) Investigating structure and temporal scale in social organizations using identified individuals. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 6:199–208Google Scholar
  34. Whitehead H (1999) Testing association patterns of social animals. Anim Behav 57:F26–F29PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Whitehead, H (2009) SOCPROG programs: analyzing animal social structures. Behav Ecol Sociobiol. doi: 10.1007/s00265-008-0697-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Whitehead H, Dufault S (1999) Techniques for analyzing vertebrate social structure using identified individuals. Adv Stud Behav 28:33–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations