Socio-ecological Systems

  • Robin I. M. Dunbar
Part of the Studies in Behavioural Adaptation book series (SBA)


The key lessons that have emerged from the analyses of the individual components of primate socio-ecological systems are: (1) that birth and death rates are determined by an interaction between environmental, demographic and social factors; (2) that birth and death rates filter through the demographic system to determine the social milieu in which individuals develop, so influencing the social skills they learn as well as constraining their choices of social partners; (3) that an individual seeks to maximise its lifetime reproductive output by forming relationships with those individuals that will be of most value in furthering these ends; (4) that its choice of social partners is limited not only by demographic constraints on the availability of partners, but also by those partners’ own preferences for certain kinds of relationships; (5) that ecological and anti-predator strategies largely determine the way in which females are distributed and that this, in turn, determines what the males can do; and, finally (6) that primate social systems can be viewed as variations around a common theme (essentially, relationships between females).


Squirrel Monkey Titi Monkey Monogamous Species Time Spend Feeding Reproductive Unit 
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  1. 1.
    Averaging the values for whitehanded gibbons in Figure 12.5, a male who can search an area 100 m either side of his route of travel with a mean day journey of 1.463 km and a total range area of 0.453 km2 would be able to search 64.6% of his territory each day. With a probability of locating his female of α= 0 646 his mean return time (i.e. the interval between successive encounters with the female) when searching randomly is 1/α = 1.55 days.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robin Dunbar 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin I. M. Dunbar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of LiverpoolUK

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