Dominance and Reciprocity in the Grooming Relationships of Female Long-Tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in Indonesia

Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


It has been long known that females form the stable core of macaque societies (Bernstein and Sharpe 1966; Vandenbergh 1967; Drickamer 1976). They have strong relational ties and develop lifelong relationships with other females in their groups, thus they are considered to be female-bonded (Wrangham 1980). They have particularly close relationships with kin that are characterized by high levels of affiliation (Sade 1965; Drickamer 1976; Kurland 1977; Chapais 1983; Gouzoules and Gouzoules 1987; Kapsalis 2004; Silk 2006). This pattern results because females are philopatric and remain in their natal group for life, while males disperse and emigrate from their natal groups shortly after reaching sexual maturity (van Noordwijk and van Schaik 1985; Pusey and Packer 1987). Since female family lineages generally remain in the same location across generations, macaque groups are based on a cross-generational matrilineal social structure of closely related females. Macaque groups are typically multi-male/multi-female, and consist of several female matrilines (i.e., families), their young, and unrelated immigrant adult males that have migrated from neighboring communities and maintain transient relationships with the females until they emigrate again (de Ruiter and Geffen 1998). Due to the matrilineal structure of macaque societies, females must maintain long-term affiliative relationships with other females in their group. Consequently female cercopithecine primates, such as macaques, are equipped with adaptations for developing and maintaining close female-female bonds because females that can develop larger relationship networks tend to have higher fitness (Silk et al. 2003; Silk 2007).


Focal Sample Rank Distance Coalition Support Female Grooming Groom Reciprocity 



Parts of this project were funded by a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellowship from the American-Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF) and from The Ministry of Education in Singapore (Grant # RG95-07). The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) issued a research permit to conduct research in Indonesia (Permit #: 3044/SU/KS/2003), and the Indonesian Department of Forestry (PHKA) authorized permission to enter and reside in Tanjung Puting National Park (Permit #: 1765/IV-SEK/HO/2003). The Institute of Animal Care and Use Committee of the United States at the University of Georgia in Athens approved the methods of animal observation before initiating field research (Animal Research Protocol #: A2005-10167-0). The research was sponsored by the University of Indonesia through Dr. Noviar Andayani from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. I would like to thank Peltanadanson for assisting in the field research and Karthick Ramanathan for compiling data for analysis. I also thank the Rimba Orangutan Ecolodge for supporting the project during my research.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of PsychologySchool of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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