International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 300–315 | Cite as

The Effect of Dominance Rank on the Distribution of Different Types of Male–Infant–Male Interactions in Barbary Macaques (Macaca sylvanus)

  • Barbora KuběnováEmail author
  • Julia Ostner
  • Oliver Schülke
  • Bonaventura Majolo
  • Petr Šmilauer
  • Martina Konečná


In several cercopithecine species males exhibit a specific type of male–infant–male interaction during which two males briefly manipulate an infant. These interactions typically occur after a male carrying an infant (infant holder) approaches or is approached by another male who is not holding an infant (infant nonholder). The agonistic buffering and relationship management hypotheses explain these interactions as a tool to establish and maintain social bonds among males. Both hypotheses predict that males preferentially use the opportunity to interact and bond with males dominant to themselves. However, the agonistic buffering hypothesis predicts that males preferentially initiate male–infant–male interactions with the highest ranking males available, whereas the relationships management hypothesis predicts that males are more likely to interact with males that are close to them in rank. To test these predictions, we collected data on 1562 male–infant–male interactions during 1430 hours of focal observation of 12 infants in one group of wild Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) in Morocco. Using generalized linear mixed-effect models we found that males preferably initiated interactions with males that were dominant to them. However, we observed this effect only for interactions initiated by the infant holder. In interactions initiated by non-holders, the receiver’s relative rank did not predict the frequency of interactions. Males also initiated more interactions with males close in rank to themselves than distantly ranked males. Our results support the relationship management hypothesis, but also indicate that the different types of male–infant–male interactions may require different explanations.


Agonistic buffering Infant handling Macaca sylvanus Male–infant–male interactions Relationship management Social hierarchy 



This study was supported by grant 009/2014/P and 04-151/2016/P provided by the Grant Agency of the University of South Bohemia, Christian-Vogel Fond for Field Research of the Gesellschaft für Primatologie and by a scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD. We are grateful to the Haut Commissariat aux Eaux et Forêts et à la Lutte Contre la Desertification of Morocco for research permission and professor Mohamed Mouna (Institute Scientsifique, Rabat, Morocco) and professor Mohamed Quarro (Ecole Nationale Forestière d’Ingénieurs, Salé, Morocco) for their invaluable support and cooperation during the field work. We appreciate the advice and support of Josephine Kalbitz, Adeelia Goffe, Andreas Berghänel, Christopher Young, Christina Haunhorst, and Stanislav Lhota. We are particularly thankful to James Waterman for his support and comments on the earlier version of the manuscript. We also want to thank Dr. Joanna Setchell, Dr. Daphne Kerhoas, and one anonymous referee for their thoughtful and insightful comments on the manuscript.

B. Kuběnová, O. Schülke, J. Ostner, and M. Konečná conceived the idea, formulated the aims of the study, and designed the methodology; B. Majolo provided the study site; B. Kuběnová conducted field work and collected data; P. Šmilauer and B. Kuběnová performed statistical analysis; and B. Kuběnová, O. Schülke, J. Ostner, B. Majolo, and M. Konečná wrote the manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of Behavioral Ecology, Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach Institute for Zoology and AnthropologyGeorg August University GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan
  4. 4.Research Group Primate Social EvolutionGerman Primate CentreGöttingenGermany
  5. 5.Leibniz ScienceCampus Primate CognitionGerman Primate Center and Georg August University GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  6. 6.School of PsychologyUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK
  7. 7.Department of Ecosystem Biology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic

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