Effects of food dispersion on dominance related behaviors in Garnett's bushbaby (Otolemur garnettii)?

Kyle Daniel Edens, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

Socio-ecological theorists tie primate social structure diversity to variations in habitats within which primate species reside. This premise permits laboratory researchers to investigate specific factors that influence or relate to social structure formation and maintenance. The focus of the current investigation was three fold. We first aimed to determine the relationships between traditional and non-traditional behavioral measures of dominance, then evidence for dominance hierarchy formation was examined, and various hypotheses were tested to discern if adjustments in the foraging context altered social behaviors in Garnett's bushbaby ( Otolemur garnettii ). It was determined that animals likely to displace conspecifics were more apt to groom conspecifics. Animals likely to groom conspecifics did so for longer durations, and animals likely to arrive at the juice patch first were likely to feed more frequently and longer from the patch. There were no other consistent relationships between non-traditional and traditional measures of dominance. It was possible to construct dominance hierarchies from the directionality in displacement and grooming occurrences. Hierarchy construction using other agonistic interactions was not possible due to the inconsistent relationships with other behavioral measures, inconsistencies in the directionality of the occurrences, and extremely low rates of agonistic behavior. Similarly, the construction of hierarchies from feeding priority measures was not possible. The frequency of allo-grooming, duration of allo-grooming, frequency of foraging on chow, and duration of foraging on chow decreased from the juice to the no juice conditions. Displacement interactions did not show a decrease in frequency. Although there was evidence that bushbabies are capable of constructing hierarchies, there was no conclusive evidence that dominance related measures were dictated by alterations in the foraging setting. This by no means invalidates socio-ecological theory. However, these findings suggest the dominance concept is more complex, warranting further investigations of social structure formation in Garnett's bushbaby and other prosimian primate species.