Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Michael Mong

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Lucas Keefer

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Heidi Lyn


Social behaviors are represented in every animal species regardless of the level of sociability found in the species. At the very least, conspecifics must interact for the continuation of the species. Depending on species, social behavior could merely consist of mating and territorial disputes, it could consist of a multitude of social behaviors that provide a way of navigating a complex societal structure, or it could consist of any level of interaction between those extremes. However, the behaviors that make up these social repertoires are not universal across species. They could differ in either the form or function of the behaviors. Primates as a group provide both a wide range of gregariousness and vast array of social behaviors. For all primate species, a key social behavior is grooming. While grooming has been regarded as a social bonding behavior for nearly a century, a recent study found that grooming in Garnett’s bushbaby was more closely linked with agonistic behavior sequences than affiliative sequences. Grooming in bushbabies is not solely a social bonding behavior (Christopher, 2017). This study provides another example of agonistic grooming in a primate species. We found evidence for grooming as a part of an agonistic behavior sequence across all study species. In addition, this study adds credence to the possibility that agonistic grooming might be present across all primate taxa and provides corroboration that agonistic grooming helps maintain or establish dominance hierarchies.