Acquisition of fission-fusion social organization in a chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) community released into the wild

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The social aspects of primate reintroduction are of primary importance to the success of release programs and need to be assessed through the study of changes in social behavior over time. This study reports on the development of social structure and organization in a community of 37 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) released into the wild in the Conkouati Douli National Park, Republic of Congo. Analyses of post-release monitoring data collected over 10 years on association patterns between individuals show that during the years following individual releases, chimpanzees exhibited changing social structure and organization until they stabilized in one community living in a fission-fusion system. Social organization development was directly affected by several factors including community size and experience in the wild, while social structure was affected by individual characteristics: gender, pre-release history, and release history. Similarities between social structure and organization observed in the released community and wild chimpanzee communities demonstrate that the release program is a success from a social point of view.

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