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Keywords:

  • social stability;
  • conflict interference;
  • coalitionary support in capuchins;
  • proximity and aid

Abstract

The “social intelligence” hypothesis proposes that intelligence evolved as a consequence of the need for behavioral maneuvering to deal with the complexities of social life. As a result, coalitions have received considerable attention. Here we present the patterns of coalitionary behavior observed in a semifree-ranging group of Cebus apella and explore the effects of kinship, spatial proximity, and rank. In contrast to descriptions of Old World monkeys and to some descriptions of capuchins, kinship did not influence the pattern of coalitionary behavior, although individuals tended to help those that remained in close proximity. Rank had the greatest influence on coalitions: those that interfered in conflicts (often the alpha) were higher ranking than both contestants and supported the most subordinate (younger) interactant. However, rank did not influence the coalitionary support when conflicts involved only adults. We found no evidence that individuals were making use of triadic knowledge, and most of the coalitions can best be described as protective interventions involving immatures. The overall low rate of coalitions may be due to a period of social stability. Am. J. Primatol. 68:765–776, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.