Between-group encounters among bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata)

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Socioecological theory suggests that between-group competition is an important factor affecting the nature of primate social relationships. Between-group encounters in macaques may involve female resource defense, male mate defense, and male resource defense. We observed between-group encounters in two groups (a forest group and a temple group) of bonnet macaques (Macaca radiata). We observed 102 encounters in 875 h of observation of the forest group (1.40 per 12-h day) and 58 encounters in 907 h of observation of the temple group (0.77 per 12-h day). Aggressive interactions between groups occurred in 32.4% and 29.3% of encounters in the forest and temple groups, respectively. Overall, we found little support for the female resource defense hypothesis. Females in both groups rarely participated aggressively in between-group encounters. We found support for the male mate defense hypothesis. For example, males of the forest group were more aggressive during encounters in the mating season than in the non-mating season. Males were also aggressive to females from their own group immediately following encounters. We also found partial support for the male resource defense hypothesis. Encounters in the forest group occurred in a feeding context more often than expected based on time budgets. Also, males in the temple group were more often aggressive in food-related encounters than in other encounters. The findings of this study suggest that socioecological models of primate social relationships need to distinguish male and female strategies during between-group encounters and integrate the resulting functional outcomes.

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