, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 9–22 | Cite as

Group fission in a semifree-ranging population of Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus)

  • Jean Prud'Homme


During a 16-month study of semifree-ranging Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) the group under observation divided into two groups. Observations were carried out in 1987–1988, at «La Montagne des Singes,” Kintzheim, France. A subgroup of monkeys, which was already cohesive at the beginning of the study, became progressively autonomous in relation to the rest of the main group, during the mating season. Overt aggression between the males of the two groups during this period brought about the fission. Only low-ranking genealogies left their group of origin. Dominance relations between females remained identical in both groups except for one lineage. The alpha male and the alpha female of the subgroup had a close relationship before the fission occurred. The sequence of agonistic intergroup relations is described and analyzed in relation to male sexual competition and female alliance power. The results suggest that: (1) the males of the subgroup instigated the fission because it was the best strategy for them to counter sexual competition; and (2) the females followed the males in order to maintain their alliance network, necessary to insure their dominance status over subordinate females.

Key Words

Group fission Barbary macaque Macaca sylvanus Sexual competition Female dominance Alliance network 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altmann, J., 1974. Observational study of behavior: Sampling methods.Behaviour, 49: 227–265.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Chance, M. R. A., G. R. Emory, &R. G. Payne, 1977. Status referents in long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis): Precursors and effects of a female rebellion.Primates, 18: 611–632.Google Scholar
  3. Chapais, B., 1983. Dominance, relatedness, and the structure of female relationships in rhesus monkeys. In:Primate Social Relationships: An Integrated approach,R. A. Hinde (ed.), Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 209–219.Google Scholar
  4. ————, 1986. Why do adult male and female rhesus monkeys affiliate during the mating season? In:The Cayo Santiago Macaques: History Behavior and Biology,R. Rawlins &M. Kessler (eds.), SUNY Press, Albany, pp. 173–200.Google Scholar
  5. ————, 1988. Rank maintenance in female Japanese macaques: Experimental evidence for social dependency.Behaviour, 104: 41–59.Google Scholar
  6. ----, in press. Role of alliances in the social inheritance of rank among female primates. In:Cooperation in Contests in Animals and Humans,A. Harcourt & F. de Waal (eds.), Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  7. ———— &S. Schulman, 1980. An evolutionary model of female dominance relations in primates.J. Theoret. Biol., 82: 47–89.Google Scholar
  8. Cheney, D., 1983. Extra-familial alliances among vervet monkeys. In:Primate Social Relationships: An Integrated Approach,R. A. Hinde (ed.), Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 278–285.Google Scholar
  9. Chepko-Sade, D. B. &D. S. Sade, 1979. Patterns of group splitting within matrilineal kinship groups. A study of social group structure inMacaca mulatta (Cercopithecidae: Primates).Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 5: 67–87.Google Scholar
  10. Datta, S., 1983. Relative power and the maintenance of dominance. In:Primate Social Relationships: An Integrated Approach,R. A. Hinde (ed.), Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 103–111.Google Scholar
  11. Deag, J. M., 1973. Intergroup encounters in the wild Barbary macaqueMacaca sylvanus L. In:Comparative Ecology and Behaviour of Primates,R. P. Michael &J. H. Crook (eds.), Academic Press, London, pp. 315–373.Google Scholar
  12. ————, 1974. A study of the social behaviour and ecology of the wild Barbary macaqueMacaca sylvanus L. Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of Bristol, Bristol.Google Scholar
  13. ———— &J. H. Crook, 1971. Social behaviour and “agonistic buffering” in the wild Barbary macaqueMacaca sylvanus L.Folia Primatol., 15: 183–200.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Dittus, W. P. J., 1982. Population regulation: the effects of severe environmental changes on the demography and behavior of wild toque macaques.Int. J. Primatol., 3: 276.Google Scholar
  15. ————, 1988. Group fission among wild toque macaques as a consequence of female resource competition and environmental stress.Anim. Behav., 36: 1626–1645.Google Scholar
  16. Drickamer, L. C. &S. H. Vessey, 1973. Group changing in free-ranging male rhesus monkeys.Primates, 14: 359–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Furuya, Y., 1968. On the fission of troops of Japanese monkeys. I. Five fissions and social changes between 1955 and 1966 in the Gagyusan troop.Primates, 9: 323–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. ————, 1969. On the fission of troops of Japanese monkeys. II. General view of troop fission of Japanese monkeys.Primates, 10: 47–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gouzoules, H., 1980. A description of genealogical rank changes in a troop of Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata).Primates, 21: 262–267.Google Scholar
  20. Hunte, W. &J. Horrocks, 1986. Kin and non-kin interventions in the aggressive disputes of vervet monkeys.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 20: 257–263.Google Scholar
  21. Kawamura, S., 1958–65. Matriarchal social ranks in the Minoo-B troop: a study of the rank system of Japanese monkeys. In:Japanese Monkeys, A Collection of Translations,S. A. Altmann (ed.),S. A. Altmann, Edmonton, pp. 105–112.Google Scholar
  22. Koyama, N., 1967. On dominance rank and kinship of a wild Japanese monkey troop in Arashiyama.Primates, 8: 189–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. ————, 1970. Changes in dominance rank and division of a wild Japanese monkey troop in Arashiyama.Primates, 11: 335–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kuester, J. &A. Paul, 1988. Rank relations of juvenile and subadult natal males of Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) at Affenberg Salem.Folia Primatol., 51: 33–44.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Loy, J. &K. Loy, 1974. Behavior of an all-juvenile group of rhesus monkeys.Amer. J. Phys. Anthropol., 40: 83–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Malik, I., P. K. Seth, &C. H. Southwick, 1985. Group fission in free-ranging rhesus monkeys of Tughlaqabad, Northern India.Int. J. Primatol., 6: 411–422.Google Scholar
  27. Mehlman, P. T. &R. S. Parkhill, 1988. Intergroups interactions in wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus), Ghomaran Rif Mountains, Morocco.Amer. J. Primatol., 15: 31–44.Google Scholar
  28. Missakian, E., 1973. The timing of fission among free-ranging rhesus monkeys.Amer. J. Phys. Anthropol., 38: 621–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Netto, W. J. &J. A. R. A. M. van Hooff, 1986. Conflict interference and the development of dominance relationships in immatureMacaca fascicularis. In:Primate Ontogeny, Cognition and Social Behaviour,J. G. Else &P. C. Lee (eds.), Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, pp. 291–300.Google Scholar
  30. Nishimura, A., 1973. The third fission of a Japanese monkey group at Takasakiyama. In:Behavioral Regulators of Behavior in Primates,C. R. Carpenter (ed.), Bucknell Univ. Press, Lewisburg, pp. 115–123.Google Scholar
  31. Paul, A. &J. Kuester, 1985. Intergroup transfer and incest avoidance in semifree-ranging Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) at Salem (FRG).Amer. J. Primatol., 8: 317–322.Google Scholar
  32. ———— & ————, 1987. Dominance, kinship and reproductive value in female Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) at Affenberg Salem.Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., 21: 323–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pereira, M. E., 1988. Agonistic interactions of juvenile savanna baboons. I. Fundamental features.Ethology, 79: 195–217.Google Scholar
  34. Sade, D. S., 1967. Determinants of dominance in a group of free-ranging rhesus monkeys. In:Social Communication Among Primates,J. Altmann (ed.), Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 99–104.Google Scholar
  35. van Schaik, C. P., 1983. Why are diurnal primates living in groups?Behaviour, 85: 91–117.Google Scholar
  36. Seyfarth, R. M., 1978. Social relationships among adult male and female baboons. II. Behaviour throughout the female reproductive cycle.Behaviour, 64: 227–247.Google Scholar
  37. Smuts, B. B., 1983. Dynamics of “special relationships” between adult male and female olive baboons. In:Primate Social Relationships: An Integrated Approach,R. A. Hinde (ed.), Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 112–115.Google Scholar
  38. ————, 1985.Sex and Friendship in Baboons. Aldine, New York.Google Scholar
  39. Sugiyama, Y., 1960. On the division of a natural troop of Japanese monkeys at Takasakiyama.Primates, 2: 109–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. de Turkheim, G. &E. Merz, 1984. Breeding Barbary macaques in outdoor open enclosures. In:The Barbary Macaque: A Case Study in Conservation,J. E. Fa (ed.), Plenum Press, New York, pp. 241–261.Google Scholar
  41. Walters, J., 1980. Interventions and the development of dominance relationships in female baboons.Folia Primatol., 34: 61–89.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Wrangham, R. W., 1980. An ecological model of female-bonded primate groups.Behaviour, 75: 262–300.Google Scholar
  43. Yamagiwa, J., 1985. Socio-sexual factors of troop fission in wild Japanese monkeys (Macaca fuscata yakui) on yakushima Island, Japan.Primates, 26: 105–120.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Prud'Homme
    • 1
  1. 1.Departement d'AnthropologieUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations