Male–male social bonds predict tolerance but not coalition formation in wild Japanese macaques

Abstract

Social bonds have been construed as differentiated and enduring affiliative relationships. Strong bonds will improve fitness through interchanging with coalition formation or tolerance over resources. Social bonds have been found in a variety of taxa and predict the formation of coalitions even amongst males. However, in species exhibiting steeply linear dominance hierarchies, coalitions are hypothesized to be suppressed due to severe competition amongst males, and thus strong bonds may manifest in other forms of behavior, notably social tolerance. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of male–male social bonds and dominance on agonistic supports and aggressive interaction in one of the most despotic primate species, Japanese macaques. I conducted focal samples on male individuals, recording their grooming, proximity to other members, agonistic supports and membership, and aggressive interactions over a 2-year observation period. Male macaques formed differentiated affiliative relationships across dyads and those relationships showed positive relations between the non-mating and the mating seasons. Steep dominance hierarchies were found amongst males. The occurrence of agonistic supports was not explained by the strength of social bonds but by the dominance of the participants, whereas strong bonds predicted less frequent aggressive interaction. These results are in line with the hypothesis that dominance is a major mechanism underlying coalition formation amongst males. Unlike more egalitarian species, strong bonds do not predict coalition formation but rather tolerance in despotic species. These results suggest male–male social bonds will bring alternative consequences according to dominance structures.

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Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Drs. Nakagawa N., Yamagiwa J., Inoue E., and colleagues for their encouragement, valuable comments and discussions. I would also like to thank Dr. Izawa K. for his permission and supports during field investigation. I appreciate Dr. Yamamoto H. for his supports for data analysis and Drs. Peter T. and Sha JCM. for their help for editing this paper. Dr. Furuichi T. and two anonymous reviewers gave valuable comments to improve this work. This study was financially supported by the Cooperation Research Program of the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University (H20-F30 and H21-B23) and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B, No. 23370099) from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

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Kawazoe, T. Male–male social bonds predict tolerance but not coalition formation in wild Japanese macaques. Primates (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-020-00838-x

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Keywords

  • Male bonds
  • Dominance
  • Agonistic support
  • Coalition
  • Tolerance
  • Macaca fuscata