Socioecology, but not cognition, predicts male coalitions across primates

Socioecology, but not cognition, predicts male coalitions across primates Humans form agonistic coalitions and alliances in many contexts, but this behavior is thought to be rare in other species. A prominent hypothesis states that coalitions may be under cognitive constraints, but this idea is debated and remains to be tested empirically. In this study, we evaluate the cognitive constraint hypothesis against 3 alternative hypotheses that stress the role of demography, substrate use, and resource competition, for the evolution of male coalitions. A comparative analysis of a unique data set of 86 multimale multifemale groups of 38 nonhuman primate species from all major radiations revealed no evolutionary association of male coalition frequency with cognitive capacity (as indexed by neocortex ratio and endocranial volume). The observed variation was best explained by demography and resource competition in that male coalitions were more likely to occur in species characterized by larger male groups and reduced levels of contest competition (after controlling for phylogeny). These findings suggest that constraints imposed by the socioecological setting, rather than cognition, explain best why some primate species evolved customary coalitionary behavior while others did not. This study presents the first empirical evidence against the long-standing view that cognitive abilities may impose a limit on the use of coalitions in animals. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Behavioral Ecology Oxford University Press

Socioecology, but not cognition, predicts male coalitions across primates

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Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com
ISSN
1045-2249
eISSN
1465-7279
DOI
10.1093/beheco/aru054
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Humans form agonistic coalitions and alliances in many contexts, but this behavior is thought to be rare in other species. A prominent hypothesis states that coalitions may be under cognitive constraints, but this idea is debated and remains to be tested empirically. In this study, we evaluate the cognitive constraint hypothesis against 3 alternative hypotheses that stress the role of demography, substrate use, and resource competition, for the evolution of male coalitions. A comparative analysis of a unique data set of 86 multimale multifemale groups of 38 nonhuman primate species from all major radiations revealed no evolutionary association of male coalition frequency with cognitive capacity (as indexed by neocortex ratio and endocranial volume). The observed variation was best explained by demography and resource competition in that male coalitions were more likely to occur in species characterized by larger male groups and reduced levels of contest competition (after controlling for phylogeny). These findings suggest that constraints imposed by the socioecological setting, rather than cognition, explain best why some primate species evolved customary coalitionary behavior while others did not. This study presents the first empirical evidence against the long-standing view that cognitive abilities may impose a limit on the use of coalitions in animals.

Journal

Behavioral EcologyOxford University Press

Published: Apr 8, 2014

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