Evolutionary ecology, sexual conflict, and behavioral differentiation among baboon populations


  • Peter Henzi,

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    • Peter Henzi is a Research Fellow at the University of Natal and a Professor at the Bolton Institute. He has studied chacma baboons in South Africa since 1981.

  • Louise Barrett

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    • Louise Barrett is a Lecturer in Evolutionary Psychology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool. She has worked on grey-cheeked mangabeys in Uganda and is currently researching social cognition in baboons and vervet monkeys.


A central assumption of baboon socio-ecological models is that all populations have the same capacity to react to different environments. The burden of our argument is that this assumption needs to be reconsidered. Data suggest not only that hamadryas, but chacma as well, differ in interesting ways from the stock baboon model that has been derived, in the main, from earlier work on anubis and cynocephalus. Although environmental factors are behind these differences, much of their influence is a consequence of their effect on restricted ancestral populations, where selection for appropriate responses to the social challenges set by local conditions now constrains the nature of individual responses to contemporary environments. Available genetic evidence suggess a southern African origin for Papio at a time when climatic conditions were certainly no better than they are now and when temperatures, if nothing else, were probably lower. In light of this, a reconstruction of how climate has structured the sexual conflict between males and female charcma, which itself hinges on infanticide, can help explain not only the East African pattern, but also how the apparently anomalous hamadryas pattern has been derived.