Biobehavioral Organization of Individual Roles within Established Groups of Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta): Implications of Group Stability and Cautions for Removal of Individuals




Minier, Darren E.

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In zoos, recommendations for transferring animals between institutions are made based on the capacity of individual institutions, the current genetic distribution of the ex situ population of the species, and the long-term sustainability of the population. These types of human-induced dispersal have the potential to destabilize not only the social group receiving a novel individual, but the social group from which the transferred individual was removed and are often, therefore, contrary to the conservation aims of population management in zoos. Removal of individuals that manage group conflict has been shown to be deleterious to group stability and cohesion; however, identifying such individuals has been difficult. Third-party intervention has been described as an important mechanism for maintaining group stability in group living primates. An individual’s personality, rank, and power style have been shown to be predictors of successful intervention. This assessment provides analytical results for the distribution and importance of individual roles, particularly dissipaters of social conflict, within rhesus macaque social networks. In this assessment, 36 individuals from 6 different half-acre field cages were identified from a social network dataset based on the count of third-part interventions in non-kin conflicts. For each cage, the top three dissipaters and top three individuals with no dissipation were selected for biobehavioral assessment. The BioBehavioral Assessment program is designed to characterize temperament, emotionality, and behavioral and physiological responsiveness to novel environments and data have been used in multiple studies to understand the causes and consequences of variation in individual temperament and behavioral responsiveness. This assessment identifies individual factors leading to conflict dissipation: temperament determined within-troop and in a novel environment, behavioral and physiological responses to stress, and individual and group-level network measures. This study also demonstrated that conflict dissipaters differed from other interveners because they were posed to behaviorally and physiologically cope better with the stress of unpredictability; that specific social roles were based on individual attributes which influence how the troop agreed on the dominance status of that individual, which also contributed to a successful intervention; and suggested that males engaging in conflict appeared to play a role in dissipation, whereas female engagement in non-kin conflict was seemingly more complex and requires continued investigation



Animal Personality, Social ion, Inter-Group Conflict, Intervention Success, Population Management, Rhesus Macaque