International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 1367–1382 | Cite as

No Evidence of Coordination Between Different Subgroups in the Fission–Fusion Society of Spider Monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi)

  • Gabriel Ramos-Fernández
  • Braulio Pinacho-Guendulain
  • Adán Miranda-Pérez
  • Denis Boyer


Flexibility in spatial cohesion allows species with high fission–fusion dynamics to exploit variable habitats and decrease the costs of feeding competition. However, coordination among highly dispersed group members becomes problematic. In spider monkeys (Ateles spp.), individuals can spread over wide areas, forming several subgroups that appear to travel independently from each other. To explore their relative travel patterns, we compare the distance between different subgroups with the distance predicted by a null model of independent travel. Observations of distance between subgroups come from simultaneous follows of ≥2 subgroups in 2 different groups of spider monkeys in Punta Laguna, Mexico. We estimated space use using the kernel method, which produces areas with a given probability of presence of the subgroups, based on the frequency with which they were observed in each location. The null model consisted of the frequency distribution of distances between randomly chosen pairs of points within the home range, choosing each point independently with a probability proportional to the corresponding observed probability of presence. In all cases, the observed distances between subgroups were very close to those predicted by the null model, which suggests that subgroups do not coordinate their relative travel patterns. Also, the distance separating 2 individuals when in different subgroups was not affected by their sex or association index. These findings underscore the low cohesiveness between group members in species with high fission–fusion dynamics and challenge us to find the mechanisms by which groups maintain their social structure.


Ateles geoffroyi Group coordination Fission–fusion Null models Spatial cohesion 



Eulogio, Macedonio, Juan, and Augusto Canul provided invaluable field assistance. Filippo Aureli, Laura Vick and Colleen M. Schaffner shared the management of the field station and project. Sandra Smith provided assistance with the kernel home range estimations. We thank Andrew King and Cédric Sueur for their invitation to submit this manuscript to the special issue. They, Joanna M. Setchell, and 2 anonymous reviewers provided many useful comments that helped to improve the manuscript. Fieldwork was supported by grants from CONABIO, the Wildlife Conservation Society, CONACYT (grant no. J51278), and the Instituto Politécnico Nacional. Also, Gabriel Ramos-Fernández, B. Pinacho-Guendulain, and Adán Miranda Pérez received graduate scholarships from CONACYT (1997–2001, 2008–2010, and 2010–2011, respectively).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriel Ramos-Fernández
    • 1
    • 2
  • Braulio Pinacho-Guendulain
    • 1
  • Adán Miranda-Pérez
    • 2
    • 3
  • Denis Boyer
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro Interdisciplinario de Investigación para el Desarrollo Integral Regional (CIIDIR) Unidad OaxacaInstituto Politécnico NacionalSanta Cruz XoxocotlánMexico
  2. 2.Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, Torre de IngenieríaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)México D.F.Mexico
  3. 3.Instituto de FísicaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoMéxico D.F.Mexico

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