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The Gibbons pp 211-239 | Cite as

Ecology and the Social System of Gibbons

  • Warren Y. Brockelman
Chapter
Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)

Introduction

How does the social system of gibbons relate to the way in which they exploit their environment? For several decades, the major focus of vertebrate ecologists has been on how the environment influences or constrains social systems. To a certain extent, phylogenetic inertia or current morphology constrains ecological and social evolution, but this partly begs the question because these may already have been shaped by natural selection by the environment. Gibbons, for example, have hands and limbs highly adapted for terminal branch feeding and not ground foraging, and these are part of the complex of characters we are trying to explain. As Clutton-Brock and Harvey (1977: 574) put it, “The end products of natural selection are clusters of functionally interrelated traits.” They considered, however, that adaptations to the feeding niche were usually the most basic adaptations and probably constrained the evolution of most other functional characters.

The gibbons’ highly...

Keywords

Parental Investment Territorial Behavior Territory Size Territorial Defense Mate Competition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work has been supported by the TRF/BIOTEC Special Program for Biodiversity Research and Training grants BRT 239001, 242001 and 346005, and by funding from the Institute of Science and Technology for Research and Development of Mahidol University. I thank Jitana Aramwit, Amnart Boonkongchart, Samart Chomchin, and Saiwaroon Chongko and Juntima Jaengarun for their dedicated field assistance, and Pranom Kunsakorn, Udomlux Suwanvecho, Janya Tadjaroen, Nicola Uhde, Pimpanas Vimuktayon, Chanpen Wongsriphuak, and Anuparp Yhamdee for help in supplying observations and data. This chapter has benefited from past discussions with Ryne Palombit, Ulrich Reichard, Volker Sommer, and Carel van Schaik, although the ideas expressed are purely my own. I particularly thank Thad Bartlett, Carola Borries, Andreas Koenig, Ulrich Reichard, Lori Sheeran, and Richard Wrangham for their critical comments on the manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyInstitute of Science and Technology for Research and Development, Mahidol UniversitySalaya, PhutthamonthonThailand

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