Primate Socioecology: A Brief IntroductiOn

Alexander H. Harcourt

in Gorilla Society

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780226316024
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226316048 | DOI:
Primate Socioecology: A Brief IntroductiOn

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  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology


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This chapter presents a summary of what is known about the current state of vertebrate socioecology. First, primates have a great variety of societies, which socioecological theory ties to the contrasting survival, mating, and rearing strategies of the two sexes. Second, different distributions of food and different foods correlate with different forms and intensities of competition, different costs and benefits of grouping, and different payoffs of using cooperation with others in competition. Third, body size affects anti-predation strategies. Fourth, in mammalian species in which females are in more or less large groups (often, large-bodied species feeding on poor resources), males compete intensively for the rich, clumped resource of females, and evolve extra-large body size. Fifth, primates are an unusual mammal in the proportion of species that live in more or less stable heterosexual groups. Sixth, infanticide by non-father males is seen in primate societies in which usually only one male mates with a number of females, and lactation is of far longer duration than gestation. Seventh, females have some counterstrategies to infanticide.

Keywords: primates; socioecology; competition; infanticide; cooperation; body size; anti-predation; heterosexual groups; males; females

Chapter.  19083 words. 

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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