Does rank rule? Rank-related grooming patterns in Nicobar long-tailed macaques Macaca fascicularis umbrosus

Abstract

Primates maintain social bonds with specific individuals in the group by directing grooming toward them. Social grooming is often targeted toward individuals with whom the most benefits can be exchanged, which are usually the high-ranking individuals. We used the Seyfarth model to investigate whether dominance rank alters the distribution of grooming in a group of Macaca fascicularis umbrosus at Great Nicobar Island. We investigated whether dominance rank predicted grooming rate in both males and females. We used social network analysis to examine whether high-ranking animals maintain a central position in the grooming network. We also investigated whether adult individuals exchange grooming for social tolerance, as indicated by physical proximity. We found that more social grooming was directed toward high-ranking females, but not high-ranking males. Social network analysis suggested that high-ranking animals are not central individuals in the distribution of grooming; rather, middle-ranking animals were major contributors to the distribution of grooming. There was no relation between the grooming rate and proximity in both males and females. Overall, our findings suggest that females prefer to direct grooming toward high-ranking partners, although the dominance hierarchy is less steep than expected for Macaca fascicularis. Thus rank-related grooming patterns may be a relatively conserved trait in this isolated island population.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, for the financial assistance to HNK (Grant No. SR/SO/AS-49/2011), and SERB J. C. Bose Fellowship to MS (Grant No. SB/S2/JCB-056/2015) for carrying out the project. We thank the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, for granting permission to carry out the study (Permit No. CWLW/WL/134/566) and the Assistant Commissioner, Andaman and Nicobar Administration, for providing the necessary permits to access the tribal areas. We express our gratitude to the Andaman and Nicobar Forest Department, especially the Nicobar division, along with the Nicobar Administration for logistical support. We acknowledge the assistance and logistical support from people in Campbell Bay. We thank Dr. P. A. Azeez, former Director, and Dr. K. Sankar, Director, Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Coimbatore for their valuable support. PSM would like to thank Dr. Tha. Thayumanavan, Associate Professor in the Department of Biotechnology, KIT-Kalaignarkarunanidhi Institute of Technology, Coimbatore, for his assistance during the work. We thank Dr. D. Leiva, Dr. H. de Vries, Dr. V. Schmidt, and Dr. C. K. Hemelrijk for their valuable guidance in the data analysis. We thank Ms. S. Sneha, Ms. Dhee, Ms. Marishia Rodrigues, and Ms. Nikita Sarangdhar for their assistance in the fieldwork, and Ms. Annesa Mishra for her help with the sociograms.

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Correspondence to Honnavalli N. Kumara.

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Mishra, P.S., Pal, A., Velankar, A.D. et al. Does rank rule? Rank-related grooming patterns in Nicobar long-tailed macaques Macaca fascicularis umbrosus. Primates 61, 443–453 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-020-00807-4

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Keywords

  • Grooming
  • Rank
  • Social network
  • Macaca fascicularis umbrosus
  • Great Nicobar Island