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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2006 May;130(1):116-22.

Reevaluation of dominance hierarchy in bonobos (Pan paniscus).

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Centro Interdipartimentale Museo di Storia Naturale e del Territorio, Università di Pisa, Calci, Pisa, Italy.


While dominance relationships have been widely studied in chimpanzees, in bonobos, dominance style and linearity of hierarchy are still under debate. In fact, some authors stated that bonobo hierarchy is nonlinear/ill-defined, while others claimed that it is fairly linear. In this paper, we test the hypothesis that a shift in group composition determines changes in linearity of hierarchy. To test this hypothesis, we collected data on one of the largest captive groups in the world, in the Apenheul Primate Park (The Netherlands). We investigated the linearity of the hierarchy in two different periods, with a shifting group composition. We used the corrected Landau's index and David's scores to estimate which animals were most dominant. The major overall result of our study is that hierarchy is fairly nonlinear in this group: during the first study period (eight adults), the hierarchy was nonlinear, whereas during the second one (six adults), it failed to reach statistical linearity. We argue that the reduction of the number of adults is the principal factor affecting linearity. We also found that dominance interactions were evenly distributed across sex classes in both study periods. Furthermore, no correlation was observed between age/body weight and rank. As for the overall dominance relationship between males and females, our results suggest that there is no exclusive female dominance in the Apenheul group. The dominance style of bonobos may be loose and differentially expressed in diverse groups or in the same group, along with shifting conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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