Mishra, P. S., Pal, A., Velankar, A. D. et al. Does rank rule? Rank-related grooming patterns in Nicobar long-tailed macaques Macaca fascicularis umbrosus. Primates 61(3), 443–453.

Primates maintain social bonds with specific individuals in the group by directing grooming toward them. Social grooming is often targeted toward individuals with whom the most benefits can be exchanged, which are usually the high-ranking individuals. We used the Seyfarth model to investigate whether dominance rank alters the distribution of grooming in a group of Macaca fascicularis umbrosus at Great Nicobar Island. We investigated whether dominance rank predicted grooming rate in both males and females. We used social network analysis to examine whether high-ranking animals maintain a central position in the grooming network. We also investigated whether adult individuals exchange grooming for social tolerance, as indicated by physical proximity. We found that more social grooming was directed toward high-ranking females, but not high-ranking males. Social network analysis suggested that high-ranking animals are not central individuals in the distribution of grooming; rather, middle-ranking animals were major contributors to the distribution of grooming. There was no relation between the grooming rate and proximity in both males and females. Overall, our findings suggest that females prefer to direct grooming toward high-ranking partners, although the dominance hierarchy is less steep than expected for Macaca fascicularis. Thus rank-related grooming patterns may be a relatively conserved trait in this isolated island population.

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