Greeting Behaviors in Male Alouatta palliata at La Pacifica, Costa Rica

  • Lisa C. CorewynEmail author


Greeting behaviors are ritualized, nonaggressive interactions that serve as a form of tactile communication between two individuals; however, our understanding of the function of male greetings and how they vary inter- and intraspecifically is limited, particularly in Neotropical species. I examined greeting behavior in male Alouatta palliata to determine their social function by testing the tension reduction, social bonding, and formal dominance hypotheses. I collected 1751 h of behavioral data on two groups (G2 and G12/42) of similar size and sex ratio, with clear male dominance hierarchies. The overall number of greetings was low in both groups (N = 36 for both groups). More greetings occurred during times of social disruption (i.e., intergroup encounters, competition for food or females) than during neutral contexts (i.e., traveling or resting without potentially cycling females nearby), though frequencies varied by context in each group. Greetings occurred during all intergroup encounters in G2 but not in G12/42. With the exception of the competitive context in G12/42, alpha males and the higher-ranked male in the dyad initiated the majority of greetings in all contexts, though unidirectionality was not consistent. The pattern of greetings differed among dyads and between the groups. Subordinates in the dyad initiated more greetings than dominants only in G12/42 in the context of competitive activities, and the number of greetings decreased in G12/42 as rank distance increased. These results partially support the tension reduction hypothesis, and suggest greetings communicate nonagonistic intent among males. However, the nature of these encounters can vary by dyad and group within the same population, suggesting that greetings may also be partly driven by differing group histories, the social and ecological environments surrounding each group, and individual male temperaments.


Affiliation Conflict management Dominance Social behavior Tactile communication Tension reduction 



This study was funded by the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation and the University of Texas at San Antonio. Thank you to the Republic of Costa Rica, Hacienda La Pacifica, the Hagnauer family, Ken Glander, Isabelle Baraud, Timothy Serrano, and Jaime Trassare. I thank Mary Kelaita for helpful comments on the manuscript, and for statistical assistance. I thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions on a previous version of this manuscript, and two anonymous reviewers and Joanna Setchell for suggestions that improved the present manuscript.


  1. Albers, P. C. H., & de Vries, H. (2001). Elo-rating as a tool in the sequential estimation of dominance strengths. Animal Behaviour, 61, 489–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Altmann, J. (1974). Observational study of behavior: Sampling methods. Behaviour, 49, 227–267.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Altmann, S. A. (1959). Field observations on a howling monkey society. Journal of Mammalogy, 40, 317–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Appleby, M. C. (1983). The probability of linearity in hierarchies. Animal Behaviour, 31, 600–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aureli, F., & Schaffner, C. M. (2007). Aggression and conflict management at fusion in spider monkeys. Biology Letters, 3, 147–149.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buchanan, K., de Perera, T. B., Carere, C., Carter, T., Hailey, A., et al (2017). Guidelines for the treatment of animals in behavioural research and teaching. Animal Behaviour, 123, I–IX.Google Scholar
  7. Colmenares, F. (1990). Greeting behaviour in male baboons, 1: Communication, reciprocity and symmetry. Behaviour, 113, 81–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Colmenares, F. (1991). Greeting behaviour between male baboons: Oestrus females, rivalry and negotiation. Animal Behaviour, 41, 49–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Colmenares, F., Hofer, H., & East, M. L. (2000). Greeting ceremonies in baboons and hyenas. In F. Aureli & F. B. M. de Waal (Eds.), Natural conflict resolution (pp. 94–96). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cooper, M. A., & Bernstein, I. S. (2008). Evaluating dominance styles in Assamese and rhesus macaques. International Journal of Primatology, 29, 225–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Corewyn, L. C. (2014). Within and between group agonism in male mantled howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) living in a fragmented habitat at La Pacifica, Costa Rica. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 153(S58), 98.Google Scholar
  12. Corewyn, L. C. (2015). Dominance, access to females, and mating success among coresident male mantled howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) at La Pacifica, Costa Rica. American Journal of Primatology, 77, 388–400.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Corewyn, L. C., & Kelaita, M. A. (2014). Patterns of male-male association in mantled howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) at La Pacifica, Costa Rica: Effects of dominance rank and age. Behaviour, 151, 993–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Corewyn, L. C., & Pavelka, M. S. M. (2007). A preliminary study of proximity patterns among age-sex classes in a population of Central American black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra). Neotropical Primates, 14, 130–134.Google Scholar
  15. Crockett, C. M., & Eisenberg, J. F. (1987). Howler monkeys: Variations in group size and demography. In B. B. Smuts, D. L. Cheney, R. M. Seyfarth, R. W. Wrangham, & T. T. Struhsaker (Eds.), Primate societies (pp. 54–68). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. De Marco, A. (2017). Male greetings. In A. Fuentes (Ed.), The international encyclopedia of primatology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  17. De Marco, A., Sanna, A., Cozzolino, R., & Thierry, B. (2014). The function of greetings in male Tonkean macaques. American Journal of Primatology, 76, 989–998.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Dias, P. A. D., & Rangel-Negrín, A. (2017). Affiliative contacts and greetings. In A. Fuentes (Ed.), The international encyclopedia of primatology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  19. Dias, P.A.D., Rangel-Negrin, A., Veà, J.J., & Canales-Espinosa, D. (2010). Coalitions and male-male behavior in Alouatta palliata. Primates 51:91–94.Google Scholar
  20. Dias, P. A. D., & Rodríguez Luna, E. (2006). Seasonal changes in male associative behavior and subgrouping of Alouatta palliata on an island. International Journal of Primatology, 27, 1635–1651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dias, P. A. D., Rodriguez Luna, E., & Espinosa, D. C. (2008). The functions of the “greeting ceremony” among male mantled howler monkeys on Agaltepec Island, Mexico. American Journal of Primatology, 70, 621–628.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Elo, A. E. (1961). The new U.S.C.F. rating system. Chess Life, 16, 160–161.Google Scholar
  23. Elo, A. E. (1978). The rating of chess players, past and present. New York: Arco.Google Scholar
  24. Fashing, P. J. (2001). Male and female strategies during intergroup encounters in guerezas (Colobus guereza): Evidence for resource defense mediated through males and a comparison with other primates. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 50, 219–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fraser, O., & Plowman, A. B. (2007). Function of notification in Papio hamadryas. International Journal of Primatology, 28, 1439–1448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Garber, P. A., & Kowalewski, M. K. (2011). Collective action and male affiliation in howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya). In R. W. Sussman & C. R. Cloninger (Eds.), Origins of altruism and cooperation (pp. 145–165). New York: Springer Science+Business Mediax.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Glander, K. E. (1980). Reproduction and population growth in free-ranging mantled howling monkeys. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 5, 25–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Glander, K. E. (1992). Dispersal patterns in Costa Rican mantled howling monkeys. International Journal of Primatology, 13, 415–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Glander, K. E. (1993). Capture and marking techniques for arboreal primates. In A. Estrada, E. Rodriguez-Luna, R. Lopez-Wilchis, & R. Coates-Estrada (Eds.), Estudios primatologicos en Mexico (Vol. 1, pp. 299–304). Veracruz, Mexico: Universidad Veracruzana.Google Scholar
  30. Glander, K. E., Fedigan, L. M., Fedigan, L., & Chapman, C. (1991). Field methods for capture and measurement of three monkey species in Costa Rica. Folia Primatologica, 57, 70–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Glander, K. E., & Nisbett, R. A. (1996). Community structure and species density in tropical dry forest associations at Hacienda La Pacifica in Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. Brenesia, 45–46, 113–142.Google Scholar
  32. Hausfater, G., & Takacs, D. (1987). Structure and function of hindquarter presentations in yellow baboons (Papio cynocephalus). Ethology, 74, 297–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hemelrijk, C. K. (1990a). A matrix partial correlation test used in investigations of reciprocity and other social interaction patterns at group level. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 143, 405–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hemelrijk, C. K. (1990b). Models of, and tests for, reciprocity, unidirectionality and other social interaction patterns at a group level. Animal Behaviour, 39, 1013–1029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Holdridge, L. R. (1967). Life zone ecology. San Jose, Costa Rica: Tropical Science Center.Google Scholar
  36. Isbell, L. A., & Young, T. P. (2002). Ecological models of female social relationships in primates: Similarities, disparities, and some directions for future clarity. Behaviour, 139, 177–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Janzen, D. H. (1983). Costa Rican natural history. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Janzen, D. H. (1986). Guanacaste National Park: Tropical, ecological and cultural restoration. San Jose, Costa Rica: Editorial Universidad Estatal a Distancia.Google Scholar
  39. Jones, C. B. (1980). The functions of status in the mantled howler monkey, Alouatta palliata GRAY: Intraspecific competition for group membership in a folivorous neotropical primate. Primates, 21, 389–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kavanagh, M., & Dresdale, L. (1975). Observations on the woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagothricha) in northern Colombia. Primates, 16, 285–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kummer, H. (1971). Spacing mechanisms in social behavior. Social Science Information, 9, 109–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kutsukake, N., Suetsugu, N., & Hasegawa, T. (2006). Pattern, distribution, and function of greeting behavior among black-and-white colobus. International Journal of Primatology, 27, 1271–1291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Landau, H. G. (1951). On dominance relations and the structure of animal societies: I. Effect of inherent characteristics. Bulletin of Mathematical Biophysics, 18, 1–19.Google Scholar
  44. Larsen, R. S., Moresco, M. S., & Glander, K. E. (1999). Field anesthesia and capture techniques of free-ranging mantled howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata) in Costa Rica. Proceedings of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, 243–247.Google Scholar
  45. Lehner, P. N. (1996). Handbook of ethological methods (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Martin, P., & Bateson, P. (1993). Measuring behaviour: An introductory guide (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Neumann, C., Duboscq, J., Dubuc, C., Ginting, A., Maulana Irwan, A., et al (2011). Assessing dominance hierarchies: Validation and advantages of progressive evaluation with Elo-rating. Animal Behaviour, 82, 911–921.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Neville, M. K. (1972). Social relations within troops of red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus). Folia Primatologica, 18, 47–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Oklander, L. I., Kowalewski, M., & Corach, D. (2014). Male reproductive strategies in black and gold howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya). American Journal of Primatology, 76, 43–55.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. Perry, S. (2011). Social traditions and social learning in capuchin monkeys (Cebus). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 366, 988–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Preuschoft, S., & van Schaik, C. P. (2000). Dominance and communication. In F. Aureli & F. B. M. de Waal (Eds.), Natural conflict resolution (pp. 77–105). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  52. R Development Core Team (2011). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Scholar
  53. Ramirez, M. (1988). The woolly monkeys, genus Lagothrix. In R. A. Mittermeier, A. B. Rylands, A. F. Coimbra-Filho, & G. A. B. da Fonseca (Eds.), Ecology and behavior of neotropical primates (Vol. 2, pp. 539–575). Washington, DC: World Wildlife Fund.Google Scholar
  54. Riley, E. P., Sagnotti, C., Carosi, M., & Oka, N. P. (2014). Socially tolerant relationships among wild male moor macaques (Macaca maura). Behaviour, 151, 1021–1044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Robbins, M. M., & Sawyer, S. C. (2007). Intergroup encounters in mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. Behaviour, 144, 1497–1519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Schaffner, C. M., & Aureli, F. (2005). Embraces and grooming in captive spider monkeys. International Journal of Primatology, 26, 1093–1106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Schaffner, C. M., Slater, K. Y., & Aureli, F. (2012). Age related variation in male-male relationships in wild spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi yucatanensis). Primates, 53, 49–56.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  58. Sekulic, R. (1982). The function of howling in red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus). Behaviour, 81, 38–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Slater, K. Y., Schaffner, C. M., & Aureli, F. (2007). Embraces for infant handling in spider monkeys: Evidence for a biological market? Animal Behaviour, 74, 455–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Smuts, B., & Watanabe, J. (1990). Social relationships and ritualized greetings in adult male baboons (Papio cynocephalus anubis). International Journal of Primatology, 11, 147–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Trivers, R. L. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual selection and the descent of man, 1871–1971 (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  62. Van Belle, S., Estrada, A., & Strier, K. B. (2008). Social relationships among male Alouatta pigra. International Journal of Primatology, 29, 1481–1498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. de Vries, H. (1995). An improved test of linearity in dominance hierarchies containing unknown or tied relationships. Animal Behaviour, 50, 1375–1389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. de Waal, F. B. M. (1986). The integration of dominance and social bonding in primates. The Quarterly Review of Biology, 61, 459–479.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  65. Wang, E., & Milton, K. (2003). Intragroup social relationships of male Alouatta palliata on Barro Colorado Island, Republic of Panama. International Journal of Primatology, 24, 1227–1243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Whitehead, H. (2009). SOCPROG programs: Analyzing animal social structures. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 63, 765–778.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Whitham, J. C., & Maestripieri, D. (2003). Primate rituals: The function of greetings between male Guinea baboons. Ethology, 109, 847–859.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Whitten, P. L. (1983). Diet and dominance among female vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops). American Journal of Primatology, 5, 139–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wrangham, R. W. (1980). An ecological model of female-bonded primate groups. Behaviour, 75, 262–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Zucker, E. L., & Clarke, M. R. (1986). Male–male interactions in a group of mantled howling monkeys (Alouatta palliata) in Costa Rica. American Journal of Primatology, 10, 443.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyIthaca CollegeIthacaUSA

Personalised recommendations