, Volume 60, Issue 5, pp 421–430 | Cite as

High but not low tolerance populations of Japanese macaques solve a novel cooperative task

  • Yu KaigaishiEmail author
  • Masayuki Nakamichi
  • Kazunori Yamada
Original Article


Currently, it has been revealed that high levels of tolerance facilitate the occurrence of cooperative behavior in animals. This predicts that Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) would fail to solve cooperative food-retrieval tasks because of their low level of social tolerance. However, Japanese macaques exhibit regional differences in their levels of tolerance. In this study, we showed how inter-group difference in social tolerance could affect cooperation, by presenting a well-established cooperative rope-pulling task with two free-ranging groups of Japanese macaques that exhibit different levels of social tolerance. We used the task that required two macaques to pull both ends of a single rope simultaneously to obtain food rewards. We found that some macaques from the more tolerant group successfully solved the task, and one of them learned to wait for a partner when a partner was absent. In contrast, however, those of the less tolerant group almost never succeeded in the task. These results indicate that Japanese macaques possess the abilities to cooperate with conspecifics, but such abilities may be constrained in their typically despotic society.


Japanese macaque Cooperative problem solving Tolerance Intraspecific difference Field experiment 



We express sincere appreciation for the managers of the Awajishima Monkey Center for their great support of our study. Y.K. personally thanks Prof. Sarah Brosnan and Dr. Teresa Romero for their great advice. We would also like to thank the members of the Department of Ethology, Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University. This work was supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI Grant numbers 25780389, 23730705, 23370099. This study received approval from the animal experimentation committee of Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University (DouJinka 25-8-0), and was conducted in accordance with the animal experimentation guidelines of Osaka University.

Author contributions

YK designed and conducted the experiments, collected and analyzed the data, and wrote the paper; KY designed and conducted the experiments, collected the data, and helped draft the manuscript; MN helped design the experiment and draft the manuscript. All authors gave final approval for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 82 kb)
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Supplementary material 5 (XLSX 89 kb)


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Copyright information

© Japan Monkey Centre and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Human SciencesOsaka UniversitySuitaJapan

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