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J Theor Biol. 1990 Aug 23;145(4):511-22.

Feedback loop between kinship and dominance: the macaque model.

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Laboratoire de Psychophysiologie, CNRS (URA 1295), Strasbourg, France.


There is growing evidence that macaque social systems represent sets of coadapted traits in which strength of hierarchies and degree of nepotism covary. A framework is developed to explain the link between dominance and kinship phenomena, assuming that power brought by alliances among non-kin is allometrically related to those involving relatives. This can account for the type of social relationships observed in "despotic" systems vs. "egalitarian" ones. When social bonds are mostly founded on kinship, lineages are closed and social power generated by coalitions among relatives may reach high levels; social power frequently outweighs the fighting abilities of single individuals, and asymmetry of dominance between group members may be marked. When lineages are more open, social bonds and alliances are less kin-biased, social relationships are more equal, and as the influence of coalitions is less important, the individual retains a certain degree of freedom in relation to the power of kin-networks. Acknowledging that the balance between individual and social power is not set at the same level across different species can explain a number of variations in rules of rank inheritance and relative dominance of males and females among macaques. The framework illustrates how epigenetic processes may shape complex features of primate social systems, and offers opportunities for testing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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