International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 1245–1267 | Cite as

Where Next? Group Coordination and Collective Decision Making by Primates

  • Andrew J. KingEmail author
  • Cédric Sueur


Primate groups need to remain coordinated in their activities and collectively decide when and where to travel if they are to accrue the benefits and minimize the costs of sociality. The achievement of coordinated activity and group decision making therefore has important implications for individual survival and reproduction. The aim of this special issue is to bring together a collection of empirical, theoretical, and commentary articles by primatologists studying this rapidly expanding topic. In this article, we introduce the contributions within the special issue and provide a background to the topic. We begin by focusing on decisions that involve a collective transition between a resting and a moving state, a transition we term making the move. We examine whether specific predeparture behaviors seen during transitions represent intentional processes or more simple response facilitation. Next we classify decisions according to the contribution of individual group members, and describe how, and why, certain individuals can have a disproportionate influence over group-mates’ behavior. We then review how primate groups make decisions on the move. In particular, we focus on how variability in group size and spatial organization helps or hinders information transmission and coordination. We end with a discussion of new tools and methodology that will allow future investigators to address some outstanding questions in primate coordination and decision-making research. We conclude that a better integration of concepts and terminology, along with a focus on how individuals integrate environmental and social information, will be critical to developing a satisfactory understanding of collective patterns of behavior in primate systems.


Cohesion Consensus Coordination Decision making Leadership Sociality Synchrony 



We thank all the participants of our Symposium at the 23rd International Society of Primatology Congress in Japan, September 12–18, 2010 for their excellent series of talks, constructive comments, and discussions. We also thank A. Jacobs, L. Pyritz, D. Rendall, J. Setchell, D. Zinner, and an anonymous reviewer for comments on a previous version of this manuscript; J. Setchell for her support during preparing this special issue; and the International Journal of Primatology for funds that contributed toward the travel costs of early-career researchers to the “Where Next?” Symposium in Japan. C. Sueur was supported by a Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and A. J. King was supported by a NERC Postdoctoral Fellowship (NE/H016600/2).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Structure and Motion Laboratory, Royal Veterinary CollegeUniversity of LondonHertfordshireUK
  2. 2.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan
  3. 3.Unit of Social EcologyFree University of BrusselsBrusselsBelgium

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