Differences Between Vervets (Cercopithecus aethiops) and Patas Monkeys (Erythrocebus patas) in Agonistic Interactions Between Adult Females

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Abstract

We examined agonistic interactions between adult females in wild, unprovisioned patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas) and vervets (Cercopithecus aethiops). The dominance hierarchy of patas is far less clear than that of vervets. Patas had fewer interactions per dyad, fewer dyads with interactions, and a high percentage (18%) of reversals in which lower-ranking females won in agonistic interactions with higher-ranking females. Although the rank ordering of the kinds of interactions patas and vervets displayed is similar, with avoidance being the most frequently observed agonistic response to approaches by other females, patas were chased and supplanted more often than vervets were. The resources over which females were supplanted also differ between species. Supplants over food comprise smaller proportion of total supplants patas than for vervets. Patas appear to feed on less usurpable foods than vervets. We conclude that (1) Erythrocebus and Cercopithecus spp., except C. aethiops, should not be categorized with other Cercopithecinae, and C. aethiops should not be categorized with other Cercopithecus spp. and Erythrocebus, in discussions and analyses of relationships between females within groups and (2) ecological conditions, i.e., usurpability of foods, can override phylogenetic history as the selective pressure determining the nature of female competitive relationships within groups.

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