Social bonds enhance reproductive success in male macaques

Curr Biol. 2010 Dec 21;20(24):2207-10. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.10.058. Epub 2010 Nov 18.


For animals living in mixed-sex social groups, females who form strong social bonds with other females live longer and have higher offspring survival [1-3]. These bonds are highly nepotistic, but sometimes strong bonds may also occur between unrelated females if kin are rare [2, 3] and even among postdispersal unrelated females in chimpanzees and horses [4, 5]. Because of fundamental differences between the resources that limit reproductive success in females (food and safety) and males (fertilizations), it has been predicted that bonding among males should be rare and found only for kin and among philopatric males [6] like chimpanzees [7-9]. We studied social bonds among dispersing male Assamese macaques (Macaca assamensis) to see whether males in multimale groups form differentiated social bonds and whether and how males derive fitness benefits from close bonds. We found that strong bonds were linked to coalition formation, which in turn predicted future social dominance, which influenced paternity success. The strength of males' social bonds was directly linked to the number of offspring they sired. Our results show that differentiated social relationships exert an important influence on the breeding success of both sexes that transcends contrasts in relatedness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Female
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Male
  • Reproduction / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Thailand