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Female philopatry and dominance patterns in wild geladas

Authors

  • Aliza le Roux,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 530 Church St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
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  • Jacinta C. Beehner,

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    2. Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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  • Thore J. Bergman

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    2. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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Abstract

Cercopithecines have a highly conserved social structure with strong female bonds and stable, maternally inherited linear dominance hierarchies. This system has been ascribed to the pervasiveness of female philopatry within the typical multi-male, multi-female social groups. We examined the relationship between female philopatry, dominance hierarchies, and reproduction in geladas (Theropithecus gelada), a species with an unusual multi-leveled society. During a 4-year field study on a wild population in the Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia, we observed 14 units across two bands of geladas that underwent a number of events, such as male takeovers and female deaths, which could potentially disrupt female relationships and unit structure. First, we corroborate earlier reports that gelada females are natally philopatric: we observed no interunit migrations, and the female mortality rate was comparable to that of philopatric baboons (suggesting all female disappearances were indeed deaths). Second, contrary to previous reports, data from this long-term study show that geladas exhibit the linear and stable dominance hierarchies typical of other Cercopithecines. Moreover, female ranks appear to be maternally inherited. Third, we found no evidence that alpha females aggressively target the lowest ranking individuals, nor did rank confer clear reproductive advantages to dominant females within our 4-year observation period. As such, geladas fit the allostatic load model [Goymann & Wingfield, Animal Behaviour 67:591–602, 2004]. Our study confirms the importance of female philopatry in the kin-based Cercopithecine dominance system. Am. J. Primatol. 73:422–430, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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