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Am J Primatol. 2013 Dec;75(12):1165-73. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22178. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Significance of grooming behavior in two polygynous groups of western black crested gibbons: Implications for understanding social relationships among immigrant and resident group members.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

Abstract

In primates, grooming is considered among the most common behaviors for maintaining social bonds; however, to date, few studies have examined grooming behavior in gibbon species in detail. We used both a 5-min interval scan method and social network analysis to study grooming in two groups of polygynous western black-crested gibbon (Nomascus concolor) in Wuliang Mountain, Central Yunnan, China. Individuals in both groups spent little time in social grooming (1.45% and 1.97% of active time). We compared the two groups' grooming networks and found that the group that maintained a more stable social unit had a more complex grooming network while the group with new immigrants had a grooming network characterized by fewer grooming pairs. Females in both groups played important roles in the grooming network. A newly immigrant female spent the most time grooming others and chose the resident adult female as her main adult grooming partner. Other females from both groups chose the adult male as their primary grooming partner (except their offspring). A sub-adult male who had resided in his natal group for 2 years after maturing into an adult also groomed more and was at the center of the network. This male finally replaced the breeding male in his group 3 years after our data collection period ended. We hypothesize that the immigrant female and the resident young adult male engaged in more extensive grooming interactions as a behavioral strategy to gain tolerance from long-term residents. Our results suggest that female gibbons in polygynous groups actively cooperate in maintaining social relationships rather than co-exist through tolerance or avoidance. Our observations indicate that grooming networks in crested gibbons reflect individual dynamics and partly support the social cohesion hypothesis for primate grooming. In this regard, we suggest that changes in gibbon grooming networks can be used to predict social change.

© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

KEYWORDS:

Nomascus concolor; Wuliang Mountains; grooming interaction; polygynous; social network analysis

PMID:
23843246
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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