Strong, equitable and long-term social bonds in the dispersing sex in Assamese macaques
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/13816
In multimale multifemale primate groups, the strength and stability of affiliative relationships have been shown to affect an individual's long-term fitness such as offspring survival and longevity. Studies investigating the fitness benefits of close social relationships and the underlying mechanisms have mainly focused on the philopatric sex. The strong relationships of philopatric chimpanzee males and baboon females share important characteristics with human friendships in that increased strength of affiliative relationships is associated with increased equitability in service exchanges and relationship stability. So far, it has remained unclear whether the strong relationships of dispersing males share these characteristics as well and can thus be labelled as social bonds. Here we provide results on the variation in affiliative relationship strength and its relation to equitability and relationship stability from two wild groups of male Assamese macaques, Macaca assamensis, at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand collected over 2 and 7 years, respectively. Our analyses of almost 9000 h of focal animal data show that males formed differentiated affiliative relationships and that the strength of a relationship affected how likely males returned a grooming service within a single bout and how equally males were responsible for the maintenance of close proximity. Partner stability among the three strongest relationships was higher than among weaker relationships which suggests that top partners were not retained simply because of a lack of alternatives. Together, these results suggest that dispersing male Assamese macaques form differentiated affiliative relationships that increase in equitability and stability with increasing relationship strength. This is the first study showing long-term partner stability in males as the dispersing sex. Our results thus add to the growing body of literature indicating that nonhuman animals form close social relationships similar to human friendships.