Evidence for varying social strategies across the day in chacma baboons

Claudia Sick, Alecia J. Carter, Harry H. Marshall, Leslie A. Knapp, Torben Dabelsteen, Guy Cowlishaw

Abstract

Strong social bonds can make an important contribution to individual fitness, but we still have only a limited understanding of the temporal period relevant to the adjustment of social relationships. While there is growing recognition of the importance of strong bonds that persist for years, social relationships can also vary over weeks and months, suggesting that social strategies may be optimized over shorter timescales. Using biological market theory as a framework, we explore whether temporal variation in the benefits of social relationships might be sufficient to generate daily adjustments of social strategies in wild baboons. Data on grooming, one measure of social relationships, were collected from 60 chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) across two troops over a six month period. Our analyses suggest that social strategies can show diurnal variation, with subordinates preferentially grooming more dominant individuals earlier in the day compared with later in the day. These findings indicate that group-living animals may optimize certain elements of their social strategies over relatively short time periods.

  • Received March 22, 2014.
  • Accepted June 13, 2014.
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