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Interchange of Grooming and Agonistic Support in Chimpanzees

We investigated the temporal relationship between grooming given and agonistic support received in a group of chimpanzees at Chester Zoo, U.K. We compared grooming levels the day before a conflict-with-support to those the day before a conflict-without-support and to baseline to investigate whether individuals groom potential supporters in anticipation of the need for support. We also compared grooming and aggression levels the day after conflicts-with-support to levels the day after conflicts-without-support and to baseline levels to determine whether chimpanzees reward individuals that support them or punish those that do not. Finally, we compared grooming and aggression levels the day after conflicts-with-unsuccessful-solicitations-for-support to those the day after conflicts-with-support and to baseline to examine the behavioral consequences of not providing support when an individual had solicited but did not receive it. Future recipients of support groomed future supporters more the day before receiving support, compared to the day before conflicts-without-support, indicating that grooming increased the likelihood of support. The relationship between prior grooming and support held true only for aggressor and not victim support and is consistent with behavior expected if chimpanzees anticipated the need for agonistic support and groomed their supporter the day before to increase the likelihood of support. We found evidence of a system of reward and punishment. Individuals experienced significantly lower rates of aggression after conflicts in which they provided support than at baseline and after conflicts in which they did not provide support. The finding was true only for aggressor support. We found no evidence that chimpanzees punished individuals whom or that they unsuccessfully solicited with aggression or a reduction in grooming. However, solicitors groomed individuals that they solicited for support significantly more after unsuccessful solicitations than after individuals provided support (but with no difference from baseline), indicating that individuals may attempt to recement their relationship after an unsuccessful solicitation. The findings are consistent with a mechanism of calculated interchange in chimpanzees.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We thank Chester Zoo for financial support and assistance during data collection.

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Correspondence to N. F. Koyama.

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Koyama, N.F., Caws, C. & Aureli, F. Interchange of Grooming and Agonistic Support in Chimpanzees. Int J Primatol 27, 1293–1309 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10764-006-9074-8

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KEY WORDS

  • agonistic support
  • anticipation
  • chimpanzees
  • grooming
  • interchange