, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 473–481 | Cite as

New evidence from observations of progressions of mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx): a multilevel or non-nested society?

  • Shun HongoEmail author
News and Perspectives


African papionins are well known for the diversity of their social systems, ranging from multilevel societies based on one-male-multifemale units (OMUs) to non-nested societies. However, the characteristics of Mandrillus societies are still unclear due to difficult observational conditions in the dense forests of central Africa. To elucidate the characteristics of mandrill societies and their social systems, I analysed the age–sex compositions, behaviours, and progression patterns of their horde/subgroups using videos of them crossing open places. The progressions were very cohesive, and the very large aggregations (169–442 individuals) had only 3–6 adult males (1.4–1.8 % of all individuals) and 11–32 subadult males (6.5–7.2 %). No herding behaviours were observed in the males, and most of the small clusters within the progressions were not analogous to the OMUs of a multilevel society but instead consisted of only adult females and immatures. The progressions of alert mandrills showed patterns similar to those observed in a non-nested social system: females with dependent infants were concentrated toward the rear and adult and subadult males toward the front. These results suggest that cohesive aggregations and a female-biased sex ratio are common characteristics of mandrill species. Mandrills may form female-bonded and non-nested societies, although their fission–fusion dynamics may be different from those typical of savannah baboons.


Mandrill Social system Age–sex composition Progression Moukalaba-Doudou 



I am grateful to Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux and Centre National de Recherche Scientifique et Technologique in Gabon for providing the permission required to carry out this research. I also thank Kyoto City Zoo and Dr. Delphine Verrier at the CIRMF for training me in age–sex classification; Prof. Juichi Yamagiwa, Dr. Yoshihiro Nakashima, Dr. Katharine Abernethy, and two reviewers for their helpful comments; and Koumba Sylvain, Biviga Steven, Nzamba Victor, and all the field assistants for their cooperation. This work was supported by the JSPS KAKENHI (grant nos. 19107007, 12J01884) and by a PROCOBHA project funded by JST/JICA, Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS).

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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of ScienceKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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