Competitive regimes in forest-dwelling Hanuman langur females (Semnopithecus entellus)
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Van Schaik’s socioecological model predicts interrelations among food distribution, competitive regimes, and female social relationships. To test the internal consistency of the model, feeding competition was examined in three differently sized groups of a forest-dwelling population of Hanuman langurs (Semnopithecus entellus). The nutritional condition of females was used as a direct indicator of feeding competition and related to the seasonal variation in resource distribution and abundance. Female dominance hierarchies were characterized by displacements. Dominance hierarchies were significantly linear and relatively stable, but less so with increasing group size. Physical condition correlated with dominance rank and high-ranking females were in the best condition, indicating within-group contest competition. The strength of this relationship became less pronounced with increasing group size. The females of the medium-sized group were in the best physical condition indicating between-group contest plus within-group scramble competition. Closer examination revealed variable costs and benefits of group foraging with a predominance of within-group scramble competition when food was more abundant. The results support some basic predictions of the model. Limiting food abundance was bound to ubiquitous within-group scramble competition. The use of clumped resources translated into differences in net energy gain based on dominance. In contrast to the predictions, group-size-related costs and benefits were related to food abundance instead of food distribution. As predicted, within-group contest competition was linked to a linear dominance hierarchy. The absence of nepotism and coalitions in Hanuman langurs may be attributed to dominance hierarchies that are unstable through time, probably minimizing fitness gain via kin support.
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