Maier, A., Coleman, K. 2010. Rearing condition can affect success in social groups of rhesus macaques. American Journal of Primatology 72(S1), 36. (33rd Meeting of the American Society of Primatologists Scientific Program, Abstract #35)
Forming successful groups of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) can be challenging. Males in particular do not always get along, and some need to be permanently removed due to fighting and trauma. Early rearing condition may play a role in social group success. For example, monkeys reared without their mothers may have reduced social skills and may not do well in groups. We examined the social group success (i.e., removed due to trauma vs remain in group) of 24 male rhesus macaques reared with their mothers in one of three conditions: corrals [approximately 150 individuals, N=13], small groups [12-50 individuals, N=11], or cage [N=4]. The males were put into one of eight small groups. Only half of the males were still in these groups 4 years after they were established. As expected, monkeys reared in cages were more likely to have been permanently removed due to trauma compared to other monkeys [X2(2)=8.6, P=0.01]. None of the cage-reared males remained in their group for 4 years. Further, males reared in small groups were more likely to have been removed for trauma than corral-reared monkeys [X2(1)=4.0, P=0.05]. These results suggest that even when macaques are reared with their mothers, early rearing condition can play a role in later social group success.