International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 1059–1074 | Cite as

Grooming and Infant Handling Interchange in Macaca fascicularis: The Relationship Between Infant Supply and Grooming Payment

  • Michael D. Gumert


Female long-tailed macaques are attracted to infants and frequently groom mothers bearing them. Such grooming often involves the groomer contacting the infant and may be a trade of grooming for infant handling. To identify if grooming and infant handling are directly traded, I collected samples on times after female-to-mother grooming and on interactions in which a female groomed a mother and contacted her infant. I determined that grooming tended to promote an exchange with infant handling and that the supply of available infants was related to how long a female groomed a mother. Grooming interactions were longer when infants were scarce in the surrounding social environment than when they were abundant, indicating a possible supply-and-demand effect. This supports that grooming may be payment for infant handling. Grooming-infant handling interchanges tended to be unidirectional as mothers usually did not reciprocate grooming. Instead, infant contact occurred. A larger proportion of grooming-infant handling interchanges involved younger infants, but infant age did not seem to influence grooming durations. The length of female-to-mother grooming had no observable effect on handling time. Lower-ranked females groomed higher-ranked mothers and their infants longer than vice versa. Moreover, it was possible to predict up-rank grooming via supply and demand better than down-rank grooming. There was no observable influence of kinship on grooming-infant handling interchange. These results support the conclusion that grooming and infant handling may be traded. Grooming promoted infant handling, while supply and rank predicted the grooming payment a female would offer to access an infant.


biological markets grooming infant handling interchange Macaca fascicularis 



The article is a partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Ph.D. from the Psychology Department, University of Georgia. A Fulbright Graduate Research Fellowship from the American-Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF), Jakarta, Indonesia funded the research. I thank AMINEF for all of their assistance during my stay in Indonesia, especially Nelly Paliama. I thank the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) for providing me with a research permit to conduct research in Indonesia. I thank the Indonesian Department of Forestry for granting me permission to enter Tanjung Puting National Park and to reside in the park during my research. I also thank Dr. Noviar Andayani from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Indonesia for sponsoring my work and assisting me in obtaining the necessary permits. I express special thanks to my advisor Irwin S. Bernstein for all his assistance in formulating ideas for writing the article. Finally, I thank my research assistant, Peltanadanson for his help in the field, and also the Rimba Orangutan Ecolodge for their support and housing during the project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Psychology, School of Humanities and Social SciencesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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