General Gregariousness and Specific Social Preferences among Wild Chimpanzees

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Wild chimpanzees form temporary parties that vary in size and composition. Previous studies have revealed considerable intraspecific variation in party compositions. We examined patterns of association among age, sex, and reproductive classes of chimpanzees at Ngogo in the Kibale National Park, Uganda. We employed a class-based association index and a randomization procedure to control for confounding factors and to test for differences between classes. Results indicate that males associated with other males significantly more than expected if all classes behaved equivalently, while females generally associated with individuals of the same sex less than expected. To interpret these patterns we used two additional indices that separate associations into two components: general gregariousness and preference for particular classes of associates. Males and estrous females were more gregarious than other classes, while anestrous females were less so. After controlling for general gregariousness, adult males as a class showed no specific preference for associating with each other. Anestrous females preferred each other as party members, and estrous females avoided each other. These results are consistent with previous findings that adult males are more gregarious than females. They diverge from the standard picture of chimpanzee society, however, by suggesting a mutual affinity among anestrous females, but not among adult males as a class.

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