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Dominance style of female white-faced capuchins


Correspondence to: Mackenzie L. Bergstrom, Department of Anthropology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive, NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4, Canada. E-mail:


Dominance style, the level of tolerance displayed by dominant individuals toward subordinate ones, is exhibited along a continuum from despotic to relaxed. It is a useful concept to describe the nature of dominance relationships in macaque species and it bridges among multiple features of dominance hierarchies, aggression, kinship and conflict resolution. Capuchins share many behavioral similarities with Old World monkeys and like macaques, may exhibit a suite of covarying characteristics related to dominance. Here, we provide an assessment of dominance style by examining measures of aggression and kin bias in 22 adult female white-faced capuchin monkeys (Cebus capucinus) in three social groups at Santa Rosa Sector, Costa Rica. We found that bidirectionality of aggression was low (mean = 6.9% ± SE 1.6). However, there were few significant correlations between kin relatedness and social behavior (approaching, grooming, proximity, and co-feeding), even though the intensity of kin bias in grooming was moderate and higher in the larger group. We conclude that patterns of aggression and kin-biased behavior in our study animals are dissimilar to the patterns of covariation observed in macaque species. While unidirectional aggression suggests a despotic dominance style, the moderate expression of kin bias suggests an intermediate to relaxed classification when compared with results from an analysis of 19 macaque species. Additional studies of capuchin species and behaviors associated with dominance style (i.e., conciliatory tendencies) would help to create a comparative framework for the genus Cebus, and allow for more detailed cross-species comparison of dominance relationships across all primates. Am J Phys Anthropol 150:591–601, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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