, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 49–56 | Cite as

Age related variation in male–male relationships in wild spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis)

  • Colleen M. Schaffner
  • Kathy Y. Slater
  • Filippo Aureli
Original Article


In social organizations characterized by male philopatry, social relationships between males are argued to be the strongest. Little is known about the social relationships of philopatric male spider monkeys. To address this limitation, we investigated social relationships among individually recognized wild adult male spider monkeys from two well-habituated communities in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, focusing on affiliative behaviors important in regulating male social relationships, including grooming, embracing, arm-wrapping, and grappling. We examined whether behaviors were reciprocated between male partners and whether age was a factor in how the behaviors were distributed or reciprocated, by examining differences between younger adult males (<10 years) and older adult males (≥14 years). Although we found evidence that affiliative behaviors were overall reciprocated between spider monkey adult males, there were pronounced differences in the interactions depending on their relative age. Reciprocation in grooming and embraces between same-age males suggests their relationships are valuable to both partners. Among different-age dyads, younger males gave more embraces than they received, were the initiators of grappling and arm-wrapped more often than with same-age males, suggesting relationships between younger and older males are more risky. This confirms that younger males are attracted to older males, probably because they value relationships with older males more than the reverse, but they are also at risk.


Embraces Grooming Reciprocation Risk 



We thank Pronatura Peninsula de Yucatan, for permission to conduct our research. We are also grateful to Eulogio Canul-Aban, Macedonio Canul-Chan, Augusto Canul-Aban, and Juan Canul-Chan for valuable assistance in the field. We also thank Gabriele Schino for advice on general linear model techniques. In addition, we are appreciative of the comments of three anonymous reviewers whose feedback strengthened our manuscript. We are also grateful to the Punta Laguna community for their support of the ongoing spider monkey project. We also acknowledge The British Academy, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, The National Geographic Society, and the North of England Zoological Society for financial support of the spider monkey project. The University of Chester fully supported the research of KYS and has provided ongoing financial support of the spider monkey project.


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colleen M. Schaffner
    • 1
  • Kathy Y. Slater
    • 1
    • 2
  • Filippo Aureli
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ChesterChesterUK
  2. 2.Operation WallaceaLincolnshireUK
  3. 3.Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology, School of Natural Sciences and PsychologyLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

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