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Effects of proximity and activity on visual and auditory monitoring in wild Japanese Macaques

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Abstract

Group-living primates monitor group members to maintain the spatial cohesiveness of the group. We examined the possibility that visual scanning (turning the head for more than 3 sec) and contact calls (coo calls) function as visual and auditory monitoring behaviors to avoid separation from group members in wild Japanese macaques. The rate of visual scanning increased as proximity to group members decreased and as mobile activities (foraging and moving) increased, compared with immobile activities (resting and grooming). However, the rate of contact calls varied differently with proximity and activities. During resting and moving, the rate of contact calls increased as proximity decreased. In contrast, the rate increased with closer proximity during feeding. Visual scanning during all activities and contact calls during resting and moving increased when the group members were likely to spread over a larger area, suggesting that these behaviors functioned as monitoring of group members to avoid separation from the group. Contact calls also increased when the group members stayed in close proximity during foraging, suggesting that this behavior was also associated with competitive situations. Contact calls may also function to ease tension or maintain distance to avoid conflict in competitive situations. Am. J. Primatol. 73:623–631, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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