Recognition of other individuals' social relationships by female baboons

Anim Behav. 1999 Jul;58(1):67-75. doi: 10.1006/anbe.1999.1131.


We describe a series of playback experiments designed to test whether free-ranging baboons, Papio cynocephalus ursinus, recognize the calls of other group members and also associate signallers with their close genetic relatives. Pairs of unrelated females were played sequences of calls that mimicked a fight between their relatives. As controls, the same females heard sequences that involved either (1) only the more dominant female's relative or (2) neither of the females' relatives. When call sequences involved their relatives, subjects looked towards the speaker for a longer duration than when the sequences involved nonkin. When the sequences involved the other female's relative, they also looked towards that female. Subjects did not look towards one another when call sequences involved nonkin. Dominant subjects were more likely to supplant their subordinate partners following playbacks of sequences that mimicked a dispute between their relatives than following the two control trials. In contrast, both subjects were more likely to approach one another and to interact in a friendly manner following the two control trials than following the test trial. Results indicate that female baboons recognize the screams and threat grunts not only of their own close relatives but also of unrelated individuals. They also replicate previous studies in suggesting that female monkeys recognize the close associates of other individuals and adjust their interactions with others according to recent events involving individuals other than themselves. Copyright 1999 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.