Energy Relations and Some Basic Properties of Primate Social Organization


  • 1

    I wish to express my appreciation to J. Atkins and G. Orians, both at the University of Washington, for their criticisms of an early draft of this paper, and to L. Hiatt and all those who violently but constructively attacked a later draft when it was presented in a seminar at the University of Sydney, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia. Many of the paper's virtues are attributable to the efforts of the critics, but all of its faults are my own creations.


Recently published field data on non-human primate ecology and social behavior has stimulated much discussion of the control exercised by different environments upon social behavior of populations living within those environments. Here the author attempts to contribute to that discussion by presenting a model of certain relations between food density and distribution patterns and characteristics of predator populations on the one hand, and some basic properties of primate social organization including space and resource allocation, socionomic sex ratios, mating strategies, and the structure of multi-male social groups on the other hand. Some of the better documented primate populations are examined from the vantage point provided by the model, and a new typology of primate societies emerges. Sexual dimorphism and individual mate selection within primate groups is briefly discussed. The article concludes with a statement of its implications for the anthropological study of human social behavior.