The Myth of Despotism and Nepotism: Dominance and Kinship in Matrilineal Societies of Macaques

  • Shuichi Matsumura


The genus Macaca, or macaques, has been considered as typical species that form “female-bonded” groups, which are characterized by female philopatry and cooperation on the basis of matrilineal kinship (Wrangham 1980). It has been believed that social interactions among group members, in particular, among females, are strongly influenced by dominance and kinship. That belief seemed to have its origin in intensive studies on provisioned groups of Japanese and rhesus macaques. The emergence of sociobiology (Wilson 1975) appeared to accelerate this trend. Recently, studies of Japanese macaques in their natural habitat have thrown some doubt on this belief (Maruhashi et al. 1986; Sugiyama 1992; Hill 1999). Furthermore, comparative studies among macaques have revealed a considerable variation between species in the effects of dominance and kinship on social interactions (Thierry 1985a; de Waal and Luttrell 1989; Thierry et al. 1994). In egalitarian macaques, differences in behavior of dominant and subordinate individuals are relatively small. Nepotistic tendencies in cooperative or affiliative interactions are not recognized clearly.


Rhesus Macaque Japanese Macaque Dominance Rank Japanese Monkey Macaque Species 
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© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuichi Matsumura
    • 1
  1. 1.Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityAichiJapan

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