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Keywords:

  • Mandrillus leucophaeus;
  • Cercocebus torquatus;
  • polyspecific association;
  • mixed-species groups;
  • Korup;
  • Cross-Sanaga region;
  • Markov chain Monte Carlo test

Abstract

Studies of polyspecific associations among African forest primates have primarily focused on arboreal Cercopithecus and Procolobus/Colobus species. We examined the association frequency of the terrestrial drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) with six sympatric monkey species in Korup National Park, Cameroon, testing reports that Mandrillus associations are infrequent and transient. We conducted 3,284 km of trail walks for 12 months (February–June 2006; July 2007 to January 2008), recording species composition in 612 primate clusters. Using a Markov chain Monte Carlo test, we compared the observed frequency of dyadic associations against null models of “no association.” A novel conservative statistical approach which addresses possible dependence of observations close in time was also used, further strengthening confidence in our findings. Drills associated with all monkeys throughout the study period, and were with at least one other species (range 1–5) in half of the encounters. The association frequency of drills with red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus) was greater than expected by chance, which is interesting given the morphological adaptation of the Mandrillus-Cercocebus clade for the exploitation of the same dietary niche, hard seeds. The difference we observed in the use of forest strata by drills and mangabeys may reflect a strategy to reduce food competition while in association. The nature and duration of observed drill associations varied. Although some associations seemed to be chance encounters, others lasted for hours with the involved species foraging together. Am. J. Primatol. 73:127–134, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.