A Review of 50 Years of Research on the Japanese Monkeys of Koshima: Status and Dominance

  • Kunio Watanabe


Since the first scientific observations were made of wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata fuscata) on the island of Koshima (32 ha), half a century has passed. The Koshima group was first provisioned in 1952, at which point all of 22 individuals were identified. Since then, observations on all of the individually identified monkeys have been carried out. Since the average life span of a Japanese macaque is around 20 years and as most females bear their first infant between the ages of 5 and 10, several generations of monkeys have been observed on the island, all descendants of the original members. By 1999 the population on the island had risen to 450 individuals (Fig. 1), a little over half of which (57%) had reached puberty and were over 5 years of age. The Koshima group of Japanese macaques is unique in that nearly 40% of the offspring die within their first year. Such a high first year mortality may be the result of poor nutritional conditions prevailing on the island, in turn resulting from there being a large population confined to such a small island (Mori 1979; Watanabe et al. 1992).


Adult Male Dominance Hierarchy Japanese Macaque Japanese Monkey Alpha Male 
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© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kunio Watanabe
    • 1
  1. 1.Field Research Center, Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityAichiJapan

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