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Ecology proposes, behaviour disposes: Ecological variability in social organization and male behavioural strategies among wild bonnet macaques

Sinha, Anindya and Mukhopadhyay, Kakoli and Datta-Roy, Anirban and Ram, Sunita (2005) Ecology proposes, behaviour disposes: Ecological variability in social organization and male behavioural strategies among wild bonnet macaques. In: Current Science, 89 (7). pp. 1166-1179.

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Abstract

The structure and evolution of primate societies are generally shaped by ecological and social forces of natural selection. The habitat and feeding ecology of primate populations, in particular, largely determine the size of the existing social groups and the pattern of interactions between individuals within and across such groups. The bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata), an Old World monkey endemic to peninsular India, usually lives in seasonal tropical deciduous forests and occurs in typically large multimale multifemale associations. This species, however, appears to have evolved, in recent years, a fairly high proportion of small, but reasonably stable, unimale troops within one particular population in the Bandipur-Mudumalai wildlife sanctuaries of southern India. Demographic analyses indicate that, as compared to multimale troops, unimale groups are relatively depleted insubadult and juvenile males, exhibit a unique female-biased birth sexratio and display extensive female dispersal, all of which may havearisen in response to reproductive monopolization by the solitaryresident male. Several ecological factors, including food provisioning,may have led to the evolution of this social organization, unique for aseasonally breeding cercopithecine primate. Provisioning of primategroups also leads to a significant increase in intra-troop competitionamong individuals for the newly available resources. Do suchindividuals, however, exhibit altered behavioural strategies toalleviate social tension? Changing patterns of social interactionsbetween adult males were also analysed for one particular troop ofbonnet macaques in the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary under twoecological situations - as they foraged on their natural diet and whenthey gathered provisioned food from tourists visiting the sanctuary.Although feeding competition increased markedly as these individualsalternated between natural foraging and competing for provisioned food,individual macaques were able to adopt appropriate social strategiesunder such rapidly changing ecological regimes. These studiesdemonstrate the behavioural and social plasticity of a primate speciesand the value of demographic studies of multiple groups and populationsin different ecological environments.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: Copyright for this article belongs to Indian Academy of Sciences.
Keywords: Bonnet macaque;Macaca radiata;ecology;demography;social organization;social behaviour
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2005
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2010 04:21
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ernet.in/id/eprint/4199

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