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Social grooming network in captive chimpanzees: does the wild or captive origin of group members affect sociality?

Abstract

Many chimpanzees throughout the world are housed in captivity, and there is an increasing effort to recreate social groups by mixing individuals with captive origins with those with wild origins. Captive origins may entail restricted rearing conditions during early infant life, including, for example, no maternal rearing and a limited social life. Early rearing conditions have been linked with differences in tool-use behavior between captive- and wild-born chimpanzees. If physical cognition can be impaired by non-natural rearing, what might be the consequences for social capacities? This study describes the results of network analysis based on grooming interactions in chimpanzees with wild and captive origins living in the Kumamoto Sanctuary in Kumamoto, Japan. Grooming is a complex social activity occupying up to 25 % of chimpanzees’ waking hours and plays a role in the emergence and maintenance of social relationships. We assessed whether the social centralities and roles of chimpanzees might be affected by their origin (captive vs wild). We found that captive- and wild-origin chimpanzees did not differ in their grooming behavior, but that theoretical removal of individuals from the network had differing impacts depending on the origin of the individual. Contrary to findings that non-natural early rearing has long-term effects on physical cognition, living in social groups seems to compensate for the negative effects of non-natural early rearing. Social network analysis (SNA) and, in particular, theoretical removal analysis, were able to highlight differences between individuals that would have been impossible to show using classical methods. The social environment of captive animals is important to their well-being, and we are only beginning to understand how SNA might help to enhance animal welfare.

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Acknowledgments

We thank all the caretakers at the KS, particularly Michael Seres, for their cooperation and assistance. CS gratefully acknowledges the support of both the University of Strasbourg Institute for Advanced Study (USIAS) and the Fyssen Foundation. This study was funded by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 25119008 and 26245069, MEXT KAKENHI Grant Number 24000001, JSPS-LGP-U04, and MEXT-PRI-Human Evolution. Our animal husbandry and research practices complied with international standards and were in accordance with the recommendations of the Weatherall report on the use of non-human primates in research as well the guidelines issued by the Primate Society of Japan. The study protocol was approved by the Animal Experimentation Committee of the Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University (No. WRC-2014KS001A).

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Correspondence to Satoshi Hirata.

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Levé, M., Sueur, C., Petit, O. et al. Social grooming network in captive chimpanzees: does the wild or captive origin of group members affect sociality?. Primates 57, 73–82 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-015-0494-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-015-0494-y

Keywords

  • Pan troglodytes
  • Social network analysis
  • Grooming
  • Early rearing differences
  • Behavioral development
  • Well-being