Snub-nosed monkeys: Multilevel societies across varied environments


  • R. Craig Kirkpatrick,

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    • From 1992 to 1994, R. Craig Kirkpatrick studied black snub-nosed monkeys at Wuyapiya, in China's Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve. He received his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California in 1996 and subsequently conducted postdoctoral research on golden snub-nosed monkeys in Baihe Nature Reserve. He has worked with The Nature Conservancy in conservation planning for black snub-nosed monkeys and directed East Asia offices for TRAFFIC, the joint wildlife trade program of the World Wide Fund for Nature and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. He currently is an environmental consultant working on a range of issues, notably the impact of China's economic growth on the forests of Southeast Asia.

  • Cyril C. Grueter

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    • Cyril C. Grueter received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology from the University of Zürich (Switzerland) in 2009. His research was on the socioecology of black snub-nosed monkeys at Samage in Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve. Since 2009, he has been a postdoctoral researcher with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, conducting field studies on the feeding ecology of mountain gorillas in Rwanda. His research interests include the socioecology of folivorous primates, ecological and behavioral adaptation of primates in marginal environments, and the evolution and determinants of multilevel primate societies.


The ecology and behavior of the four species of Rhinopithecus, snub-nosed monkeys, are rapidly becoming well known. New field studies reveal in depth the striking adaptations of these colobines. Diets range from those typical for tropical colobines to diets dominated by lichens. The monkeys form bands, at times consisting of more than 400 individuals; these bands are based on the one-male, multi-female units common in colobines. We review the diet, range use, and social organization of snub-nosed monkeys, and then explore the power of socioecological theory to explain their multilevel social organization.