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Keywords:

  • foraging;
  • competition;
  • Macaca radiata;
  • primates;
  • monkey;
  • husbandry;
  • colony management

Abstract

Resource availability or distribution may affect interindividual competition in species such as primates, which forage in social groups, and several field studies suggest that dominance status predicts access to restricted food sources. Increased competition due to restricted resources may result in the intensification of aggressive behaviors. The study reported here examines the impact of manipulation of the distribution of food resources in a laboratory-housed group of bonnet macaques to assess the impact of distribution on aggressive behaviors. Food was restricted to a space which allowed access to only one or two individuals at a time or was dispersed throughout the living enclosure to allow universal access in alternating periods. During periods of clumped distribution, the monkeys obtained access to the food in order of their dominance status in the group. In addition, overall levels of aggressive behaviors increased, submissive behavior increased, and play decreased during periods of clumped distribution of food. These results confirm the findings from field studies indicating increases in agonism with restriction of food resources. These findings also have implications for primate colony management, in terms of developing strategies for minimizing intragroup aggression in captive groups.